Joe BassaniMES Spring 2018 speaker Joe Bassani shares his experiences gained from working with successful leaders in different roles, industries and countries.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of addressing a group of CIOs at MES Spring 2018 in Orlando, Florida on the topic of how leaders build winning cultures. For those of you who weren’t able to attend the event, here are a few observations I’ve made while working with winning leaders across different roles, industries, and countries.

Although most people don’t think of it this way, leadership is a critical component of business strategy. Having ready and committed leaders is a prerequisite for a successful and transformational culture. So, how do good leaders become great? While great leadership is often revealed during times of challenge, they become great by thinking about leadership on Day One, building trust and a commitment throughout the organization before the challenges arise.

There are three steps to setting the conditions for transformative leadership:

  • Prepare myself
  • Prepare my leadership team
  • Prepare my organization

To establish the foundation for transformation, you must first prepare yourself. Spend some time to understand who you are as a leader and what you believe. I recommend writing down your thoughts in the form of a personal credo so that you and others understand your guiding principles for making decisions. Also be sure to take care of your health. Leaders are exposed to external pressures and stresses in their work, so be sure to limit self-imposed stresses. Regular exercise, adequate rest, moderate consumption of alcohol and avoid tobacco use if possible. These small things add up and will give you the stamina you’ll need for the marathon of leadership.

Next, focus on preparing your team to act as a team and expand the impact you are aiming for across the business. Spend time team building and developing your direct reports. The team you build is the one that will help you transform your organization and lead through the up and the downs. Time spent developing this team is time well spent.

Finally, focus on preparing your organization to think, communicate, and act differently. Transformation is a mindset first, followed by action. Transformational teams are committed to the organization, its mission, its values and its purpose. They share openly and value sharing information over hoarding it. Most importantly, they embrace struggle as a necessary part of winning. Nothing worth having is easy, and transformational teams understand that and embrace the struggle to be exceptional.

Change is happening faster than anyone can manage. Rather than control change, we must embrace transformational leadership and nurture a winning culture that doesn’t fear change, but embraces it as another winning opportunity.