Leadership often is mistakenly described as the product of an individual’s traits or character (dynamic!, inspiring!, take-charge!).
That approach overlooks at least two central elements to a person’s success as a leader: actions that produce desired outcomes, and the support the organization provides (or doesn’t) to enabling the leader’s efforts. (The trait-approach to defining leadership also ignores the important role that a leader’s constituents play in the leadership dynamic, but that is a topic to explore at another time.)
As a leader, you don’t operate in a vacuum. Your attempts to lead others to achieve objectives receive tailwinds (support) or headwinds (resistance) from the organization’s formal and informal policies, procedures and processes. As the illustration below points out, the organizational influence parallels the individual’s practices (personal actions) on two tracks: Organization-wide systems, and group or function-level processes.
For example, if the organization’s policies (and budgets) don’t support hiring or promoting the most effective team members, a leader is hampered in assembling the team most likely to accomplish the mission. If the organization doesn’t enable the leader to obtain accurate and timely information necessary to decision-making, the leader is constrained in her capacity to act. If the organization doesn’t value the improvement of its employees — by investing in their continuing education and skill acquisition, the leader may have a team that is not up to the job or is not sufficiently motivated to continue doing it with discretionary effort beyond minimum requirements.
And on and on.
The more the organization’s systems and procedures, and the individual leader’s actions align, the more effective the leader will be at the personal level. And the more likely the organization’s goals will be achieved at the macro level.