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Perspectives

Effective leadership starts with the leader

Leadership is a multiplier effect

If accountability connects how people feel about their work to performance, shared accountability is how that happens at scale in an organization—and it starts with the leader.

Leaders inspire shared accountability for mission success

​At Deloitte, we've sat across the table from hundreds of senior leaders: Experts in their field, highly accomplished, armed with a bold vision for their organization—and yet, there are a lot of executive meetings and employee town halls, a well thought out strategy, but somehow, the vision then doesn't materialize into tangible, lasting results that leaders and organizations are able to experience. So what's missing? "If only," we hear, "my employees were more engaged." "If only the rest of the organization was bought in." "If only we weren't so busy putting out fires every day."

Familiar stories? There are innumerable examples of day to day frustrations on the ground within organizations. A clear mission, vision, or strategy by itself cannot drive organizational outcomes if we don't consider the people themselves who are implementing them. For positional leaders, this is an invitation to look closely not only at how people at every level in the organization effectively deliver to the mission, but how they connect to it. This is about accountability.

This accountability must start with leaders themselves.

Effective leaders align

Leadership alignment is a result of acting on a simple formula: Leadership is intensely personal and, at the same time, deeply about building collective success. It is a personal connection to performance and outcomes for every leader at the top of the house as well as a shared commitment and responsibility among a leadership team for business outcomes. Leadership alignment reinforces a personal connection to mission, vision, and strategic priorities, individually and collectively for a leadership team.

Consider the three specific actions in our full article: Effective leadership starts with the leader, to help you align as leaders.

People meeting

Leaders set the tone for the organization to drive tangible results

Did you catch why the magic starts with leaders? Something incredible happens when commitment is shared top down. The key to making amazing things happen is when you as a leader show up, set the tone, and lead by example—first for your leadership team and then for your organization. The measure of success depends on how intentionally you focus on individual aspiration, build trust, and translate that to collective momentum for business strategy and mission delivery.

By creating shared commitment among themselves, leaders can invite the rest of the organization in, unfolding opportunities for people at all levels to be—and feel—responsible for collective success. When we operationalized the blueprint for alignment (three actions above) with leaders, the impact on business outcomes has been significant: for example, for one of our senior federal executive clients, between 10–15 percent increases in Federal employee viewpoint survey (FEVS) indicators in their organization within two years; and for our leaders in Government & Public Services (GPS) Human Capital, a doubling in the size of our business over five years in a market growing at only 1–2 percent, according to our own data. Shared accountability starts with leaders, and when that happens something incredible is set in motion, a new energy in an organization—one that everyone is a part of.

Graph showing results
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