Leaders need wisdom to lead. So much of what makes an organization a success is how its leaders interpret what is happening in the marketplace and make the strategic moves needed to stay on top.
It’s true – there is no substitute for experience. Through successful experience and knowledge gained over time, wisdom is created. Leaders have to have it in order to make sound decisions on the information they receive. In fact, there was a joke I often heard as a young officer. The setup and punchline were all in one. That was when a brand new Second Lieutenant said “From my experience….” It was funny because they had no experience and everyone knew it. Luckily for me, I was exposed to one of my peers making that statement and reaping the rewards of doing so- I never made that mistake. Using “I think” is just as effective and much less funny.
Unfortunately, corporate America doesn’t seem to value this experience. There is a preoccupation with performing duties as opposed to strategically leading an organization. We’ve talked about process becoming more important than results. If all of your employees are buried in process, when will they have the time and freedom to think at a higher level? From my experience (I can say that now), they won’t. Process is important, but its not the most important. Success is the most important. Success is achieved through leadership.
Make no mistake, it’s not just the CEO’s responsibility. No one person can do it all, see everything that needs to be recognized, or be aware of every aspect that can affect the business. The front line will always have valuable input for the organization’s leaders.
If you want lasting success, you need an organization of strong leaders. Everyone has to participate in providing the input and ideas that lead to lasting success.
Therefore, if you want to gain the edge in the marketplace, you have to have wise leaders. You also need to build these qualities of leadership into the employees. They need to approach their jobs as a leader would, and think: “How can I do this better?” “What is it I know that could affect this company, for better or worse.” “Is this something I need to bring to the attention of higher ups?”
The more experience an employee gains, the better leader they become. A fundamental principle of success through Maneuver Management (especially in light of challenging economic circumstances) is to feed your successes and starve your failures. That applies just as much to internal resources as it does to your products and services in the marketplace. Put a premium on wise leadership, and don’t let those seasoned leaders go.