Renewable Energy, Energy Transition

Leadership – How People ‘See’ It

By: Doug Schlegel

Good leadership comes down to alignment.

If you have ever researched Leadership, you will find there are many views on what ‘good leadership’ looks like. Some organizations have chosen to define it using their own set of Leadership Attributes and Behaviors.  As long as the chosen attributes and behaviors are authentic and aligned with the Company’s Vision, Mission, Values, Strategy, and Culture, a shared understanding of what is expected of leaders will give the right focus to other Human Capital systems (e.g., talent and leader identification, development, sourcing).

As a valued partner to our clients, we have seen ‘defined’ leadership attributes and behaviors that are not authentic or aligned with the reality of how leaders operate within the organization.  This always affects the employees’ views of the organization negatively.

Disconnects between the ‘walk’ and the ‘talk’ reduce the level of engagement in an organization, which we define as the degree to which employees connect with their work and feel committed to their organization and its’ goals.  Highly engaged people are committed to both the company and the people they work with, making them more willing to do a little bit extra, which exponentially increases the probability of success.

A brief story about what strong engagement ‘sounds like’:   

Robert Reich was the US Secretary of Labor in the mid-1990s. In that role, Secretary Reich would often visit workplaces such as warehouses, offices, plants, construction sites.  He spoke of a sure-fire way to tell whether the company he was visiting was performing well or not.  He listened to the people he met and found that the companies which were more successful were the ones where he heard people talk about their company and leadership by saying “We” rather than “They or Them.”

The moral of the story for companies is to operate in ways that ‘Get to We.’

Do your employees say “we” or “they” when they talk about Leadership?

Many studies have proven that businesses with more engaged workforces will see better performance in terms of profitability, productivity, safety performance, and innovation.  Additionally, they also tend to experience lower employee attrition.  To connect the circle, we also know that engagement is heavily influenced by Leadership. Aligned and authentic leadership creates an environment for high performance


Alignment is key, but alignment of what?

It has been proven that alignment is important, but alignment of what?  A Leadership team is a collection of individuals. It is not a single entity, although it is often referred to that way.  The Key is how each individual leader ‘shows up’ – what they do and how do they do it. This is the lens through which people view that individual leader, the entire leadership team, and the business in general.  It becomes the way in which your people will describe the company to their neighbor, friend, colleague, prospective client, or candidate. How leaders ‘show up’ influences engagement and shapes culture.


 How people ‘See’ Leaders

How people 'see' leaders diagram and what happens when you're in the sweet spot.
As the diagram above shows, Trust, Engagement, and Results benefit when the ‘What’ and ‘How’ overlap.  This clearly depicts what we know to be true: the behavior and actions of leaders, both individually and collectively, permeate throughout an organization and ultimately drive performance.
To illustrate a common example, a company may say that “Innovation is a key cultural dimension,” yet when a new idea surfaces, a leaders’ response is that “we’ve tried that before” or “we have more important things to focus on” or “let’s get to it later.” While they may be well-intentioned, this type of leadership response erodes people’s belief that innovation is actually core to the company’s DNA.  This is just one example of how leaders must be self-aware of what they do and how they do it to ensure their actions have the desired impact on both culture and performance.

How clear are your leaders on how your Company’s desired culture translates to behavior AND How aligned are your leaders in what they do and how they do it?



A brief exercise to determine your level of alignment:

Have leaders self-assess alignment of their own beliefs, actions and behaviors with the Company’s stated culture.  Collect the results to surface gaps (there will be some) and use it to inform a discussion on what may be driving the gaps, how the company’s culture and performance are working, and what to do about it.   

Many of our clients feel that it is hard to honestly, objectively assess from within.  Carnrite can help facilitate an unbiased, pragmatic assessment of alignment between leadership and culture, as well as serve as a partner to close any identified opportunities to improve.

Doug Schlegel

Doug Schlegel

Managing Director

Doug Schlegel is a Managing Director at The Carnrite Group and the Human Capital and Organizational Change practice lead. In this role, Doug leads organization design, change management, and engagements across various human resource disciplines. Prior to joining The Carnrite Group, Doug had 30+ years of human resources experience. 

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