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How Leadership Accountability Drives Company Performance

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Leadership accountability

Leadership plays a big role in determining the success of an organization.

Effective and accountable leadership can help propel a company forward. On the flip side, a failure to live up to the expectations of leadership can have cascading and lingering effects across an entire organization.

Bridging the Leadership Accountability Gap

Today’s infographic, from bestselling author Vince Molinaro, is a revealing look at the impact that leadership accountability can have on an organization.

Leadership Accountability

Pre-order Vince Molinaro’s new book, Accountable Leaders

The Value of Leadership Accountability

The majority of people within organizations understand the value of leadership accountability – yet, in practice, many leaders fail to deliver on that promise.

A global survey of over 2,000 HR leaders and senior executives revealed that a mere 27% believed they had a strong leadership culture. Two-thirds of those surveyed believed that leadership accountability is a critical issue within their organization, while only one-third are satisfied with the degree of leadership accountability demonstrated at in their workplace.

What impact does this leadership accountability gap have on the performance of a company? As it turns out, a lot.

The Critical Link Between Accountability and Performance

Once survey responses were organized into three distinct categories – low performers, average performers, and industry leaders – interesting trends began to emerge.

Companies in the “industry leaders” category were far more likely to have a culture of leadership accountability. In fact, industry leaders were twice as likely to have clearly established expectations for their leadership team than respondents in the average or lower performing categories. These high performing companies were also far more likely to:

  • Have formal succession programs to help identify high-potential leaders
  • Have practices in place to foster more diverse leadership teams
  • Implement development programs to effectively build the capacity of leaders

Industry leading companies had leadership teams that ranked higher in a number of key areas. Leaders at high performing companies were far more likely to:

  • Understand customer needs and desires
  • Understand external trends affecting the business
  • Demonstrate a high level of emotional maturity
  • Demonstrate passion for executing on the company’s vision

In many of these areas, the gap between industry leaders and the other categories is significant, which presents a compelling case for embracing leadership accountability as a core value.

Building a Strong Leadership Culture: Questions to Ask

The first step to building a culture of leadership accountability is self reflection. Here are questions leaders can ask to help assess how their organization is doing:

  1. Is leadership accountability a critical priority in your organization?
  2. Has your organization set clear leadership expectations for leaders?
  3. Do you believe your leaders at all levels, are fully committed to their leadership roles?
  4. Have you built a strong and aligned leadership culture across your organization?
  5. Does your organization have the courage to identify and address mediocre leadership at an individual and team level?

Answering “no” to any of the questions above means there’s an opportunity to develop a more accountable and effective leadership team.

Only three things happen naturally in organizations. Friction, confusion and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.

– Peter Drucker

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Technology

10 Types of Innovation: The Art of Discovering a Breakthrough Product

How do companies like Amazon and Apple consistently make game-changing products? Here are 10 types of innovation, and the tactics that lead to big breakthroughs.

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The Art of Discovering Breakthrough Products

As venture capitalist Peter Thiel once put it, “competition is for losers”.

It’s inevitable that every company must be out there battling for market share, but you don’t really want to be in a situation where the competition is so stiff that any potential upside is eroded away in the process—―a scenario known as perfect competition in economics.

To avoid perfect competition, companies must strive to build an economic moat that gives them a sustainable competitive advantage over time. While these protective moats can arise from a number of different sources, in today’s information economy they most often arise from the power of innovation.

But where does innovation come from, and is there a universal framework that can be applied to help consistently make big breakthroughs?

The 10 Types of Innovation

In today’s infographic, we showcase the culmination of years of in-depth research from Doblin, an innovation-focused firm now owned by Deloitte.

After examining over 2,000 business innovations throughout history, Doblin uncovered that most breakthroughs don’t necessarily stem from engineering inventions or rare discoveries.

Instead, they observed that innovations can be categorized within a range of 10 distinct dimensions—and anyone can use the resulting strategic framework to analyze the competition, to stress test for product weaknesses, or to find new opportunities for their products.

Here are the 10 types of innovation:

#Innovation TypeDescription
1.Profit ModelHow you make money
2.NetworkConnections with others to create value
3.StructureAlignment of your talent and assets
4.ProcessSignature of superior methods for doing your work
5.Product PerformanceDistinguishing features and functionality
6.Product SystemComplementary products and services
7.ServiceSupport and enhancements that surround your offerings
8.ChannelHow your offerings are delivered to customers and users
9.BrandRepresentation of your offerings and business
10.Customer EngagementDistinctive interactions you foster

From Theory to Practice

What does innovation look like in practice?

Let’s see how well-known businesses have leveraged each of these 10 types of innovation in the past, while also diving into the tactics that modern businesses can use to consistently make new product breakthroughs:.

Innovation Types #1-4: “Configuration”

According to Doblin, the first four types of innovation center around the configuration of the company, and all the work that happens “behind the scenes”.

Although innovation types in this category are not directly customer-facing, as you can see in the examples below, they can still have an important impact on the customer experience. How your company and products are organized can have a crucial downstream effect, even enabling innovations in other categories.

Configuration innovation types

Two of the most interesting examples here are Google and McDonald’s. Both companies made internal innovations that empowered their people to make important advancements further on downstream.

In the case of McDonald’s, the franchisee insight that led to the introduction of the Egg McMuffin spearheaded the company’s entire breakfast offering, which now accounts for 25% of revenues. Breakfast is also now the company’s most profitable segment.

Innovation Types #5-6: “Offering”

When most people think of innovation, it’s likely the offering category that comes to mind.

Making improvements to product performance is an obvious but difficult type of innovation, and unless it’s accompanied by a deeply ingrained company culture towards technical innovation, such advancements may only create a temporary advantage against the competition.

This is the part of the reason that Doblin recommends that companies focus on combining multiple areas of innovation together—it creates a much more stable economic moat.

Offering innovation types

Apple has a reputation for innovation, but the product ecosystem highlighted above is an underappreciated piece of the company’s strategy. By putting thought into the ecosystem of products—and ensuring they work together flawlessly—additional utility is created, while also making it harder for customers to switch away from Apple products.

Innovation Types #7-10: “Experience”

These types of innovation are the most customer-facing, but this also makes them the most subject to interpretation.

While other innovations tend to occur upstream, innovations in experience all get trialed in the hands of customers. For this reason, intense care is needed in rolling out these ideas.

Experience innovation types

In the early days of the internet, online shipping was precarious at best—but Amazon’s introduction of Amazon Prime and free expedited shipping for all members has been a game-changer for e-commerce.

Executing on such a promise was no small task, but today there are 150 million users of Prime worldwide, including some in metro areas who can get items in as little as two hours.

Making Innovations Happen in Your Organization

How can organizations approach the 10 types of innovation from a more tactical perspective?

One useful resource is Doblin’s free public list of over 100 tactics that correspond with the aforementioned framework.

The one-pager PDF provides a range of typical dimensions for approaching each type of innovation. In essence, these are all different ways you could consider when trying to differentiate your product or service—and at the very least, it provides a useful thought experiment for managers and marketers.

For those interested in learning more on this topic, Doblin also has a highly-rated book as well as other accessories that leverage the above framework.

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Markets

How to Avoid Mediocre Leadership in Trying Times

This graphic explores the five behaviors that lead to mediocre leadership and the damaging consequences that they can have on employees.

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In today’s complex world, leaders are being asked to step up in dynamic and unexpected ways.

Unfortunately, many of them are not equipped with the tools they need to lead under pressure. As a result, they fail to serve themselves and their employees effectively, and put the future of their entire organization at risk.

The Behaviors That Result in Mediocre Leadership

Today’s infographic from Vince Molinaro’s Accountable Leaders reveals the common behaviors that can result in leaders becoming mediocre due to mounting day-to-day pressures.

mediocre leadership graphic

Order Vince Molinaro’s new book, Accountable Leaders

Leadership accountability is one of the most important ingredients for driving business growth and maintaining a healthy corporate culture.

How can leaders set the tone for accountability in their organization?

Accountable Leaders Invest in Themselves

Every leader has an obligation to their employees, their customers and their community, but failing to put themselves first could have serious consequences—and cause a ripple effect across other parts of the business.

In fact, 40% to 80% of a manager’s time is spent on activities that add little to no value, when the majority of their time should be spent investing in their personal development.

By not having a holistic view of their development, leaders succumb to the day-to-day challenges that come with managing a company, such as:

  • Getting in over their head
  • Confusing acting rough with tough
  • Mistaking effort for results
  • Feeling like the victim
  • Being insecure and unable to use their voice
  • Constantly needing to hear good news
  • Needing to win at all costs
  • Waiting for permission to act from senior leaders
  • Being driven to distraction and lacking focus
  • Not learning from past mistakes

Moreover, if leaders struggle to meet expectations, the risk is that they either give up, or ultimately become a mediocre leader—but what exactly does that look like?

The Characteristics of a Mediocre Leader

Mediocre leadership has become remarkably commonplace, yet it is not always easy for organizations to identify.

Here are the five problematic characteristics of a mediocre leader:

  1. Blames others: Never personally acknowledges their role or contribution to any mistake or failure.
  2. Selfish and self-serving: Regularly acts out of self-interest and brings a sense of entitlement to the role.
  3. Uncivil and mean: Routinely mistreats, demeans and insults others, usually in public.
  4. Inept and incompetent: Makes bad decisions, resulting in a trail of disaster behind them.
  5. Lacks initiative: Looks for the easy way out by deflecting responsibility.

Leaders cite several reasons for falling into this mediocre leadership trap, including their fear failure, having unclear leadership expectations, and being overloaded with tasks that could be delegated elsewhere.

The Danger of Mediocre Leadership

It comes as no surprise that this style of leadership has a negative impact on employees, with 73% claiming that they spend a significant amount of time dealing with problems that arise from an ineffective manager.

However, employees will put up with a mediocre leader because they find the work itself meaningful, or they value the relationship they have with their peers.

But while mediocre leaders can bring a team closer together through their collective misery, eventually this reaches a tipping point which could result in a high staff turnover or low rates of employee engagement.

Avoid a Culture of Mediocrity

As we navigate uncertain waters, leaders must not only demonstrate agility and resilience—they must also advocate for a culture of accountability.

”Senior leaders create the culture and set the tone for the organization. It’s imperative that they drive the set of behaviors influencing the behaviors of the next line leaders.”

—Molinaro, Vince (2020), Accountable Leaders.

But in order to maintain accountability across an organization, mediocre behavior must be addressed, and difficult decisions will need to be made.

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