A Winning Combination

There are so many books and articles written about leadership. Many of them cite similar characteristics of what makes good leaders. Is there anything new to add? Maybe.

We’ve been working with several clients recently who are on a performance excellence journey, embracing the Baldrige Excellence Framework as the way they manage and improve their organizations. One is a new client, just beginning on their journey. Another is a client we have worked with for a few years and who have become our friends. In coaching both of them on their performance excellence journey, we began to reflect on two of the Baldrige Core Values and Concepts.

The first is “Visionary Leadership.” This includes setting the strategic direction for the future and building the processes, systems, and capabilities that ensure that the organization is successful in the future. Visionary leadership also involves inspiring and motivating the entire workforce to contribute to accomplishing the vision and mission through personally serving as role models for the organization’s values.

What’s the second secret to this winning combination? “Valuing People” is another Baldrige core value and concept. What successful leaders on a performance excellence journey do is engage their workforce along the way. But more than that, they invest in developing their people. They provide recognition and rewards in addition to fair wages and an array of benefits. They invest in learning and development to help their people grow in their personal and professional lives. They value people as human resources rather than depreciating assets. And they understand that customer loyalty is only as good as the service that truly engaged employees to deliver.

Of course, there are other attributes of successful leaders. These include competence, business savvy, ethical behavior, transparency, and management by fact. But we think visionary leadership and valuing people might just be at the top of the list. What do you think?

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