Take Your Leadership Effectiveness to the Next Level

Liz Lugt, Movation Leadership

No matter where we are in our leadership journey, there is always room to grow. If you’re like me, an avid fan of the Global Leadership Summit, you have no doubt heard Craig Groeschel say, ‘everyone wins when a leader gets better’. I couldn’t agree with him more.

In my work as an organisational health consultant*, I have the great privilege of working with some amazing leaders and their teams around the world.  It doesn’t matter what size the organisation they lead is, where in the world they are, what sector they operate in or even whether the organisation is for-profit or not-for-profit, I have identified some consistent themes that help them all take their leadership effectiveness to the next level.  In this blog I share three of these themes.  As you read them, may I encourage you to choose just one to grow in over the next six months.    

1.       Top collective priority 

To give your organisation the best chance of success, you have to make sure you and your team are all rowing in the same direction.  Not only will this maximise your chance of success as an organisation, but it will also eradicate silos and politics.  But rowing in the same direction will only happen if everyone rowing is clear on what that direction actually is.  

I have had the tremendous privilege of being trained by Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and other bestsellers.  In his book, The Advantage, he sets out four disciplines for healthy organisations, the second of which centres around clarity in six key areas.  One of these key areas is the organisation’s top collective priority (aka the rallying cry or the thematic goal).  What do I mean?  You and your team should have 100% clarity and alignment around your organisation’s (or team’s) top collective priority for the next 3 – 6 months (6 – 12 months for larger organisations).  In other words, identify that one thing, that if achieved, would most move your organisation (or team) forward in the next 3– 6 months.  Yes, this is above business as usual which always remains important. But if everything is a priority, then nothing is.  Have one top collective priority that everyone works towards.   

You may be tempted to have more than one, please resist this temptation.  I have seen the best teams come unstuck with this approach.  In any organisation, regardless of its size or aim, resources are finite.  Do yourself a favour and identify that one priority that would make the most difference to your organisation (or team) in the next 3 – 6 months.  And then break it down into measurable objectives that you track every week to ensure momentum and progress.   

This may sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I have sat around a table with the best of leadership teams who each have a different idea as to the team’s top collective priority when I go around the table and ask what it is.  

Get talking.  Get clear. Get aligned.  


2.       Custodian of the culture


When I first started out as an organisational health consultant nearly 15 years ago, the importance of organisational culture was little appreciated. But the tables have really turned. People have finally woken up to Peter Drucker’s famous words, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’  You can no longer ignore this fundamental principle for organisational success, not unless you want to see your organisation achieve far less than its potential or worse still, fail.   

Now culture flows from the top down.  In other words, culture starts with you as the leader.  You are the ultimate custodian.  Once you are clear about what sort of culture you want to create, you need to model it, daily.  As leaders, we cannot expect anyone else in our organisations to live the values that we say are core to who our organisations are when we are not living them ourselves.  Failure to do so will only lead to cynicism and a lack of trust.  And we all appreciate where a lack of trust leads. 

And don’t just stop there, when someone on your team crosses the boundary and fails to live a core value, deal with it…kindly, but firmly.  You are the custodian of the culture.  Get this right and you give your organisation a competitive advantage (even if you’re a not for profit).  


3.       Have difficult conversations


Difficult conversations are a necessary part of leading others.  Yet we often put these conversations off or even avoid having them altogether as they are not easy to do nor are they necessarily pleasant.  In fact, I have found in my work with leadership teams that this is one of the areas that leaders struggle with the most.     

The role of the leader is to address things that need to be addressed, in a timely manner, head on and in a way that is kind and ultimately leads to behaviour change. Consistently late for meetings, failing to meet deadlines, submitting work of a poor standard, having a bad attitude, not behaving like a team-player, not doing what they said they would do, etc.…when we don’t deal with these things, it undermines our leadership amongst those that are looking on…whether that’s the rest of our team, our peers or even our own manager, and it also demotivates the team.   

The goal of any leader should be to build a high-performing and cohesive team that has a high degree of trust, engages in productive conflict, achieves commitment, embraces accountability and focusses on results.  And having difficult conversations is a necessary part of achieving this objective.

Leaders do what needs to be done, even when it is difficult. 

The good news is that having a difficult conversation effectively is a skill that can be learnt and practiced.  The best tool I have ever come across is in chapter 6 of a book called The Art of Loving Well by W. Eckleben.  I’d highly recommend it (I don’t get commission for saying so).   

Have the difficult conversations.   

As this blog ends, pause…sit for a moment…choose just one of these areas to be more intentional about over the next 6 months.  And once you have done that, decide on the very first thing you need to do to take action on it.  Put this action item on your ‘to do’ list and schedule time in your calendar for it.  Take your leadership effectiveness to the next level.  

Liz Lugt

Organisational Health Consultant

*Helping leadership teams gain clarity and alignment around their vision, their strategy and culture

Movation Leadership