Great leaders are able to critically assess an organization's structure and culture, and are willing to make changes where needed in order to position the company for success. However, organizational effectiveness is about more than structure.

There are two secrets within the element of organizational effectiveness that are critical to the success of any company:

  1. Maintaining a lean and efficient internal organizational structure.
  2. Ensuring that your organization has policies and processes in place to hold leaders accountable for their behaviors as well as results.

"Maintaining a lean and efficient organization" means that leaders must regularly assess the current structure of the company to determine its ability to contribute to the success of the organization. A heavily layered organization is oppressive, inhibits communication, hinders the sharing of ideas and interferes with the ability to take care of customers and employees.

Eventually, employees and customers will get discouraged and give up. The end result can be high employee turnover and customer defection.

Ensuring that your organization is not top heavy and that it is as lean as possible facilitates strong relationships with employees and communication in all directions at all levels. It also makes it easier for customers to express their ideas, wants and needs.

Look around your organization and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is employee turnover high?
  • Are employees doing only enough to get by or stay out of trouble?
  • Are your employees apathetic?
  • Are customers defecting at a rate higher than the average for your industry?
  • Do you get more complaints than compliments on service?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, this may be a warning sign or symptom of an organizational structure that makes it difficult or even impossible for employees to share their ideas or communicate daily operational needs.

Here are two tactics for assessing the leanness of your organizational structure:

  1. Evaluate the job description of each manager in your organization. Is there duplication of responsibilities that may cause confusion and interference with effective processes or delay growth and forward progress?
  2. Conduct a business process review to identify overlap and inefficiencies within policies, processes and procedures.

The second element of organizational structure is leadership accountability — ensuring you have clearly articulated expectations and have processes in place for holding leaders accountable not only for business performance but also for behaviors.

Many organizations today realize that “Type A” managers — leaders who are controlling, autocratic and manage by intimidation — are ineffective and damaging to the organization. In most companies, these types of managers are no longer tolerated. Within your organizational structure, you must not only consider the physical structure but also the types of managers or leaders that have power and authority over employees and processes.

For example, if you have a leader who is delivering on business performance but behaves inappropriately, that person has to change or go. These are tough decisions to make. However, you cannot afford to tolerate such people or their behaviors for very long. They may be contributing successfully to the bottom line for the time being, but ultimately these leaders will create chaos and failure within your organizational structure, eroding profits through employee turnover and customer defection. In addition, the employees who will leave are the productive ones that you cannot afford to lose.

Generally, leaders fall into one of four categories:

  1. The person who is neither delivering on business results nor exhibiting appropriate behavior. There is no question that these leaders must be asked to leave the company.
  2. The leader who delivers great business results but does not model the right behavior. This leader is contributing to the bottom line but is not treating employees well. Often called “results-oriented leaders,” they are leaving dead bodies in their wake. Yet it is traditional in business that these people are rewarded and promoted for bringing bottom-line results to the organization without thought for the long-term consequences of their actions.
  3. The third type of leader has strong relationship skills but does not demonstrate business savvy. These leaders are liked and respected by their employees. Employees readily follow them blindly and happily down whichever path the leader chooses. The good news is that with some training these leaders usually can learn the business skills necessary to be successful. In other words, the leaders with strong relationship skills are most likely to develop into ideal leaders if they can learn competent business skills.
  4. The fourth leadership type is the ideal leader. These are the people who are getting business results for your organization, demonstrating the organization’s values and behaviors, and building great relationships with the employees and customers. They have learned to balance the leadership characteristics of building relationships with holding people accountable. They take disciplinary action when necessary, reward and recognize when it is appropriate, bring money to the bottom line, and give great service to customers. If this type of leader sounds like a miracle worker, it is for good reason. Mastering this scope of relationship and business skills is very difficult. It is no surprise that these people are a small percentage of leaders in any organization. When you find them, you must do everything in your power to keep them.

Within your organizational structure, you must have processes and tools in place to help you identify which types of leaders are running your organization. Once you have identified where your leaders fit, it is up to you to have processes in place that will clearly state expectations for business results and behavior. You must then provide the tools, training, knowledge and skills that will allow each leader to realize his or her full potential. Once you have done these things, you must hold these people accountable for their performance and behavior.

If they cannot deliver on both goals, then you may have to make a decision about allowing them to remain in a leadership position or possibly move them to a different role in the organization. It may even be necessary to ask them to leave the organization. Although this may cause short-term strain, it will allow you to promote from within or hire from outside the organization an ideal leader who will contribute to the long-term success of the organization.