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At the same time, however, comments such as these are heard throughout the organization:
“This strategy is just the flavor of the week” or even worse “We can't get anything done
because management hasn’t provided us with any direction.” How can this be? Thus, while the
leaders at the top of the organization are confident that they’ve laid the necessary foundation,
this clearly isn’t the case.
While it is important to have strong leaders at the top of a company or organization, what is
the more powerful leadership paradigm? Developing leaders at every level of an organization.
George Washington once said "Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers
formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all." Using this wisdom as a
foundation for today’s highly complex organizational dynamics, we could broaden out to this
message to "Leadership is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures
success to the weak, and esteem to all."
What could possibly be more of a powerful force than an "army of leaders" operating in your
organization? This army is a result of a carefully crafted leadership culture that is embraced at
all levels, not just by management. Creating a leadership culture results in an environment that
fosters and rewards teamwork, leverages diversity, shares knowledge and resources, inspires
collaboration and promotes results-focused mission accomplishment.
Let’s examine the creation of a leadership culture and the many benefits of having leaders at
every level of the organization instead of a select few concentrated at the top.
Here is what we know: having a specific job title doesn’t make someone a leader. In fact, true
leadership is more about having the skills to influence among peers to enhance a company’s
performance. The skills in our army of leaders will be powered by: Creating a Collaborative
Environment; Leadership Accountability; Building Anticipation Skills; Developing Reaction Skills;
and Recruiting Changes.
Leadership at Every Level
By Jeffrey Rocha
Let’s see if this situation sounds familiar: The senior
members of the management team have spent a significant
amount of time developing and deploying a strategy. These
senior managers have done many of the things that leaders
should do – setting goals, coaching and giving feedback,
building and leading teams and driving results.
Although it is important to work with existing employees in developing leadership qualities, your
human resources department should also develop a systematic approach when hiring new
employees. A brief questionnaire can easily determine if candidates at all levels have
essential leadership qualities. These skills can also be identified through the use of situational
leadership interview questions. You may also consider the candidate’s ability to develop these
skills if they don’t already have them. A candidate who is willing to make the effort to
successfully integrate into a leadership culture can be very valuable.
Although many employees think that embracing leadership requires large actions, it’s important
for management to help them understand that small daily actions can make a large impact on an
organization. If employees have the motivation to make a positive contribution – they can
become a leader in your organization.
Jeffrey Rocha is CEO of The Millennium Group International, LLC (TMG). Since 1998, TMG has
partnered with a wide variety of commercial, non-profit and government organizations to enable
leaders to accelerate performance in alignment with organizational goals with sustained measurable
results. Leaders learn to communicate, delegate, and follow through effectively, to help the team
deliver business results and develop group capacities and strengths.
Bill George. “Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis.” Wall Street Journal.
Leslie L. Kossoff. “From Manager to Leader.” About.com Management.
Developing Reaction Skills
Employees shouldn’t just be able to anticipate, they should also have the skills needed to react
quickly. This skill is typically acquired through experience. Give employees an
opportunity to develop strategies that are flexible enough to make future changes
seamless. This will provide them with additional skills and make the organization
Building Anticipation Skills
The most successful leaders have the ability to anticipate the results of their decisions – both
planned and unplanned. Coach employees during daily situations that arise and help them
anticipate how actions at their level affect the entire organization. This will help them make
better choices and develop one of the most necessary skills for a leader - the ability to see
around the next corner.
When creating a leadership culture, it’s important to create mechanisms for accountability. This
will drive your company’s performance and train leaders to meet ambitious goals.
Organizations should have fair and measurable performance assessments and reward
behaviors that achieve results. Depending on the specific goals, measures of success may
include quality improvements, enhanced timeliness, and cost reductions.
Often, tying rewards to performance is an effective way to reinforce the accountability
component of leadership. Rewards can include monetary incentives as well as peer recognition
Creating a Collaborative Environment
Enable collaboration across functions so that employees can build strategic relationships
necessary to achieve common goals. These networks and alliances are critical for creating fast
action in solving tough problems.
Encourage leaders at every level to develop collaboration skills in such a way that not only
motivates employees to follow their leader, but also instills a sense of trust in that leader’s
The first step is to establish an open-communication policy where employee opinions are
encouraged. All employees should have an opportunity to weigh in regardless of title or position,
and they should be able to see the results of their contributions. This will allow all employees
to not only develop confidence in their opinions, but in their leadership skills as well.