I received much feedback on my previous blog post on how - Having an Organizational Identity is a requirement for high-growth companies, with readers sharing their own experiences on the topic. This was a very pertinent issue that many executives and employees in high growth companies were able to relate to. In this post, I wanted to extend this discussion to how CEOs and executives can help their organization develop its own identity, in support of company's long term objectives.
First of all, CEOs should resist trying to impart their leadership style, their work culture, and their management approach, to the rest of the organization. This is a difficult thing to do, especially considering that most CEOs have a strong personality and their position in the organization puts them in spotlight at most times. However, there are some serious risks to this approach. One, the CEO's capabilities and their management style becomes the ceiling for the entire organization to achieve - which is a scary thought. Two, it fosters followership rather than true leadership. Three, what worked for the CEO in the past might not be what the current organization needs to fulfill its promise and long term objectives.
In my experience, CEOs who are successful in building great
organizations that last beyond their times, do not start with preconceived
ideas about what their organization's identity should be. They constantly
experiment to bring out traits best suited for their organization and work
towards institutionalizing them. Here is a framework that CEOs could use to
understand and refine their own organization's identity.
- Bring together a team of RSPs (really smart people) –
An organization’s identity is one that is defined by the people it is made off.
Smarter its people, higher the chances that the organization’s identity would
be good one. Having quality people with different perspectives will ensure that
the best of ideas and business management practices are brought forth under a
given situation that a company faces.
- Set long term mission, not short-term performance as
the moral compass that will dictate organization behavior and how it responds
to business situations
- Foster an environment of experimentation and risk
taking – CEOs should empower employees or teams to come up
with solutions to business situations and let them respond on their own.
However these solutions/responses should be grounded in intellectual honesty –
rational, backed by data, debated in a team setting, and with accountability.
- Institutionalize organizational traits that should be retained - Based on results against expected outcome, organizational behaviors that are preferred should be retained and institutionalized while other behaviors are discarded.