Why Leadership Isn’t Enough

Your manufacturing leadership team has just completed its’ latest training webinar on developing their management skills, yet something is missing. It’s clear that with some of your leader’s individual teams there is something definitely wrong. Communication is not as it should be and the overall culture of that leader’s group is not gelling.

It’s gets more complicated. These teams, where their micro culture is not working, interact with other teams in your company, and this impacts communication with the rest of the organization and the overall culture of your enterprise.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you are not the only manufacturing business owner or manager experiencing this quandary. Many business gurus will emphatically claim that if your leadership team is up to speed, everything else will take care of itself. The unfortunate truth is — it won’t.

Let me rephrase that last statement: If your leadership team is up to speed everything else won’t take care of itself.

If communication with one or two teams is out of sync, it will have a powerful impact on the rest of your organization.

If you are going to make progress in creating the kind of company that can weather the challenges and seize the opportunities today’s business climate can bring, you must address two other critical areas. The two other parts of the formula for success that need to be recognized and addressed are communication and culture.

Communication within any business is a frontier fraught with opportunity for things to go wrong. According to business expert, Barbara Bean-Mellinge, “With so many ways to communicate, from person-to-person to texting, being in the business world can feel like information overload. Between personal and business communications, it seems as if there’s a constant onslaught, and the only reasonable solution is to disengage. Employees that have pressing deadlines will ignore texts and phone calls, and many don’t check their email. Important messages about meetings, statistics and problems are sent but not seen.”

In other words, communication has become more complex today. Ways to communicate that were meant to enhance our understanding and connection with others, has actually done much to complicate and create a frustrating disconnect.

As a result, our listening skills are dulled by the overwhelming onslaught of interruptions and distractions that force their way into our lives.

It is like trying to have a conversation in a crowded and very noisy restaurant. It is almost impossible to concentrate or even want to engage with another person in a meaningful way.

Now, back to your company. In its’ own unique way, might this be happening from time to time with your teams? If it is, begin to look for ways you can develop the communication skills of your entire team. It has been said, you don’t have enough time, not to take the time, to learn how to increase the communication skills of you and everyone else in your company.

Do you and your team members understand their own behavior styles? Do they know how to identify and work with each other’s behavioral styles? What about their driving forces or motivators? Do you and your team members understand their own driving forces? Do they know how to identify and work with each of their peers? There are many excellent assessment tools available on the market that measure both of those critical areas. Do some research about them. Pick one assessment and use it for each person in your company. The one I use with my clients is called Talent Insights™.

Hire a coach or a trainer to come into your company to assess and deliver skill building strategies in the area of speaking, listening, behavior styles and driving forces. Make it a point to encourage your managers and employees to develop their skill sets on their own, through audio books and videos. There is a plethora of knowledge and information available. But it is up to you as the owner, to be the catalyst to make it happen. Remember, good communication doesn’t cost — it pays!

The third piece to the puzzle is your company’s unique culture. One way to define culture is what leadership guru Michael Kouly calls, “the sum of the behaviors of all its people.”

In other words, each one of your employees brings their own unique being to your workplace. This person, and who they are, is the direct result of their lifetime of personal and work experiences. How you as a leader can take what they bring and create a space for it to be part of your overall company culture, is the key to creating an organization that your employees’ want to be part of and thrive in.

How important is it to have a solid company culture? As thought leader Simon Sinek puts it, “Business culture matters. How management chooses to treat its’ people impacts everything for better or for worse.” How well does your company treat its employees and leadership team? Could it use some improvements? Why not ask your employees and leadership team for their honest and anonymous feedback. Once you know, you can respond accordingly.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “An organization’s culture defines the proper way to behave within the organization. This culture consists of shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding. Organizational culture sets the context for everything an enterprise does. Because industries and situations vary significantly, there is not a one-size-fits-all culture template that meets the needs of all organizations.”

Your company’s mission and vision statement are an integral part of creating and sustaining a culture that works to help your team understand the purpose of why your company exists. Mutually agreed upon values are the building blocks that bond your employees together. Your culture illuminates and underscores the role each person plays to support that mission and vision statement.

Chad Rickwood, VP of Sales and Marketing and New Business Development with Termax Corporation, shared with me in a recent interview that their culture is all about serving their clients. During the COVID pandemic his team members went the extra mile and delivered product prototypes to their customer’s homes. That is an excellent example of your people believing in and supporting the mission of your company.

SHRM goes on to state that, “When an organization has a strong culture, three things happen: Employees know how top management wants them to respond to any situation, employees believe that the expected response is the proper one, and employees know that they will be rewarded for demonstrating the organization’s values.”

So, there you have it, leadership is not enough. With it you need crystal clear communication and a vibrant culture. When you are able to do all three, you will be on your way to a balanced approach to running a successful green industry company.

About the Author

Tom BorgTom Borg is founder and president of Tom Borg Consulting LLC. For over 25 years he has been helping business owners, presidents, CEOs and their teams in the manufacturing industry. He works at the intersection of leadership, communication and culture. He may beached at 734-404-5909 or tom@tomborg.