How to be an effective leader in a complex organisation

Life, including work, can be complicated.  The most effective leaders I have worked with in large complex organisations understand this, and practice the art of making it ‘easy’ for people to do their job. 

They do this by keeping things simple and sharing as much as practical.  

So how can you do this?

See yourself as an enabler.  You are there to help your people get the job done in the best way possible. The best leaders I’ve worked with do this by sharing strategy, plans and key information up front.  They seek to understand what will help their people get their job done in the most efficient way.  They also know that a big part of their job is guiding energy and activity…not blocking it.  

Make it easy for people to know who you are and what you stand for as their leader. Don’t play games, manipulate or take the grandiose route.  Be real…be yourself.  Let people see the direct line of sight from your values to your behaviour.  

Don’t over complicate situations.  Sometimes a complicated situation doesn’t need a large-scale plan that has many moving parts.  Take a step back, look at the situation from all angles and see if there is just one part of the problem that needs addressing.  An easy example is the situation we encounter when a team isn’t performing well due to the behaviour of one or two team members.  Why decide to pull a whole team away from the job for one or two days of team building when a couple of conversations with the employees in question would likely address the issue?

Talk ‘with’ your people. For your work as a leader to be considered valuable, it is important for your people to understand where they are headed, what they will be doing, and why it is occurring in the way that it is.  Involve them in decisions that affect them; or share key information with them as early as possible.  Remember…information is like oxygen.

Finally, keeping it simple doesn’t mean that you are simple, or that you are dumbing things down for your team.  It is in fact the opposite; keeping things simple isn’t always easy, especially when there is so much activity to dilute into a digestible message.  Whilst this thinking applies to all leadership in any sized company, it does play a special role in aiding your effectiveness in global, matrix or government environments where the complexity is significantly higher.  And in these environments, the greatest respect you can show your people is that you acknowledge the potency that comes with your role.  And the most effective leaders are those who acknowledge that without their people being at their most potent, they are not succeeding as a leader.

Ponte Valle Insight: How to be an effective leader in a complex organisation

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