Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Forbes.com
When good leadership is in place in a company, it can be felt throughout the entire organization. With good leadership, corporate culture isn’t forced, it is developed. Communication is daily and open. Everyone understands the vision and goals of the organization, and everyone has input into how they can be improved. Employees feel that they are an important part of the whole and that every job matters within the company. Decisions for promotions are based on picking people of integrity whose talents and experience best fit the positions. Employees are encouraged to compete with their own best to get ahead and they understand that helping their coworkers to succeed is the best way to get ahead themselves. The result of good leadership is high morale, good employee retention and sustainable long-term success.
Bad leadership can also be felt throughout the entire organization — only not in a good way. Corporate culture becomes a meaningless term where leaders claim it exists while employees shake their heads in frustration. There is a lack of clear, consistent communication from leadership to the employees. As a result, the office is run by rumor mill, politics and gamesmanship. Employees are uncertain of the company’s goals and objectives for success and they have no idea how they fit into that picture, or what their level of importance is toward making it happen. Decisions for promotions are not based on integrity or talent, but rather they are based on who can talk the biggest talk or who is deemed to be the least threatening to the current leadership team. Employees are taught play dirty against coworkers to get ahead by watching as it is continuously rewarded by leadership, leading to the Lobster Syndrome of tearing one another down throughout the organization. The result of bad leadership is low morale, high turnover and a decreased ability to have any sustainable success. To become a truly great company it takes truly great leaders.
Here are some great quotes that I love on being a great leader:
“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.” — Dwight Eisenhower
“Lead and inspire people. Don’t try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead.” — Ross Perot
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” — General Colin Powell
“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” — Brian Tracy
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” — Douglas MacArthur
Companies cannot afford to have poor leadership if they want to truly succeed — and I don’t just mean in terms of financial success. I define success as far more than just money. I define success for a company as having a good product or service that adds value to the lives of its customers, while providing a positive working environment that allows employees to grow and flourish in their talents and abilities as well as their personal value system, all while generating a profitable return for shareholders. If a company isn’t doing all three of those then it isn’t truly successful.
Employees cannot flourish under poor leadership, and when they are faced with having to follow poor leaders, companies risk losing their very best and most talented people. Don’t risk allowing poor leaders to lead your organization.
For anyone who is ever granted the opportunity to take a leadership position, remember that being a true leader doesn’t come from a title, it is a designation you must earn from the people you lead.