If your leadership were a business, would your employees be paying customers? The war for talent means your best employees ‘choice of employers is broadening. They have leadership options from which to buy and definitely conduct product comparisons. Whether it is the degree of late nights you ask of them, the extent of which “stuff” is allowed to roll down hill or amount of training received, your employees pay a price for your leadership product. Other leaders, either within your organization or elsewhere, offer different options at different price points. Therefore, leaders should ask themselves, “why do my employees pay for my leadership, why should they continue paying for it and how do I find more of the right customers for my leadership?” Based on this perspective of leadership as a product purchased by followers, below are three good practices I’ve seen for improving your leadership product.
1. Evaluate Competitor Products: Within your company and beyond, what are the most admired leaders offering as a part of their “product”? Look at the managers within your organization with the best 360 feedback scores. Also, look at some of the greatest leaders outside your company – those highlighted from Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For or similar studies. The leadership products offered from these competitors are ones you should consider adopting features from for your own leadership product offering.
2. Conduct a Market Study: When was the last time you conducted a survey of your team’s reflection on the quality of your leadership product? 360 Feedback is great, but consider going beyond the standard HR processes and policies. One of the greatest tools I’ve seen is an anonymous Q&A session. In this process, employees on the team submit their questions to a human resources representative. The HR representative filters the questions, rephrases them into their own words to ensure anonymity, then asks the leader these questions live, in an open dialog with the team. Why not conduct your own, similar, marketing study?
3. Invest in Research & Development: Over time, the best products evolve through investments in R&D. Your leadership product should be no different. To maintain the interest and support of your team, you should continuously improve your leadership skills. Invest time with mentors and perhaps even a professional coach. Devote time to personal development and reading the latest leadership books and industry periodicals. If you fail to evolve your leadership product over time, your competitors will become more attractive while your product remains stagnant.
Your leadership is a product purchased by your followers. The team invests time, effort and creativity into your organization, at least in part due to your leadership. Therefore, as you serve the organization, it’s employees, customers, investors and other stake holders, you owe it to them to develop your leadership product. Failure to continuously develop this product could be more costly than failures in your organization’s end product and services.
Questions: What other ways do you invest in your leadership Product? How does your leadership develop their product?