Corporate America is often criticized as being bureaucratic and stodgy. The complaint is that every decision takes much longer to be made and execute. On the flip side, it is often said that small businesses make decisions quickly because there are only a handful of decision makers and the decisions can be executed swiftly. Over the last few months, I have come to realize that this dichotomy has nothing to do with the size of an organization. It is completely based on management’s leadership capabilities and style.
My boss at the consulting company I work for is an example of a good leader. He is straightforward in his approach and always sets expectations very clearly. He gives both positive and negative feedback regularly, reenforcing good habits and hoping to expunge bad ones. He entrusts decisions to his team and supports their work. At the same time, he makes sure he is not hypocritical at all and leads by example. The combination of these traits are admirable and highlight what it means to be a good leader. Under his leadership the organization moves forward quickly and nimbly as if we were a five person company.
On the other hand, I also work with a small five person company and their lack of similar leadership perpetuates a sense of stodginess thought of in thousand person companies. Decisions are made slowly and followed through even slower. This is in part because the head of the organization is indecisive, inconsistent and rarely follows through. These traits reenforce bad work habits that are very hard to get rid of.
I find myself asking, is the success of any organization tied to its management’s ability to lead? Although I wish it weren’t true, I am beginning to think the answer is YES.