In today’s economy, ordinary just won’t work anymore. Now organizations increasingly depend on cutting-edge solutions to never-before-seen problems and clever ideas for those recurring headaches that have always plagued them. However, research indicates that only a handful of star performers create the vast majority of valuable ideas for their organizations.
Leaders who choose to lead a team of these top performers need to understand that these clever—often brilliant—individuals offer more, so they expect more in return. The major-league player wants to play with other stars, not benchwarmers. Similarly, organizational stars hold high standards for themselves, so it makes sense that they will hold their places of employment to equally high metrics. They want to work with other exceptional players in a culture that fosters their growth, formulates a clear strategy for their success, and then creates the day-to-day processes that allow them to achieve their personal goals and realize their need for accomplishment. In short, they want strong leaders who lead exceptional organizations—agile yet stable organizations that hold on to their core values while responding adeptly to the temporary nature of the global economy. Here’s what a CEO can do to make that happen.
1. Embrace a transient and timeless orientation.
Find the balance between legend and truth, originality and innovation, today and tomorrow. Most leaders build their companies based on their beliefs about the future; however, the future has shown itself to be unpredictable and fickle.
2. Build a strong culture.
Two components characterize all successful corporate cultures: a strong change orientation and a commitment to learning. When you have these in place, you can more effectively address the direction the company needs to take.
3. Commit to excellence.
Excellence, the overarching requirement for exceptional organizations, defines everything else: talent, culture, and strategy. Without a clear commitment to and focus on excellence, nothing else matters.
4. Hire superior talent in key roles.
How often have we heard, “Our people are our greatest asset”? The facts tell a different story. Only some people are true assets. You’ll need to spot them, nurture them…and know when to leave them alone. These people will make the difference between surviving and thriving—between outrunning your competition and tripping at the finish line.
5. Develop a clear strategy.
Today, rather than developing a single strategic commitment, smart leaders hedge their bets. Instead of imagining one possible future, they envision and anticipate several future alternatives.
6. Require leaders to serve as exemplars and avatars.
Star performers will only work for other stars. Therefore, successful companies understand that they’ll need to promote leaders who will foster trust, evoke excellence, and drive the business.
Exceptional organizations serve as magnets to stars who, by their very nature, require superior performance of themselves and those with whom they associate. They want to feel empowered to make decisions to improve both the organization and their own lives, and they want to align their excellence with an employer that distinguishes itself through excellence.