Teaching employees about your company’s vision combined with strong leadership training ensures continued success for both the present and the future.

In today’s increasingly competitive workforce, the importance of leadership development and teaching employees the importance of seeing the big picture within the company is more vital than ever. 

At Rice Tec, Global CEO Mike Gumina leads a team that supports the company culture, sets its strategic direction and develops operating systems so the company can be successful in achieving its business plans. He sees leadership development through two lenses.

Mike Gumina.

“The first view is about effectiveness right now,” Gumina says. “To optimize our decisions and to make the best of the dynamic marketplace in which we work, we need to have high-performing teams. “That is: building a common understanding of our position, trusting each other as we consider options, handling conflict without creating animosity, building a plan for success and then supporting each other as we implement the plan. This sounds straightforward, but it requires us to keep our egos in check and to open our minds to the possibilities.”

The second, he says, is about the future, where it is imperative to develop the next generation of leaders so the enterprise can continue to fulfill its mission and serve customers indefinitely. 

“One of the challenges in leadership development is helping future leaders know the difference between leadership and management,” he says. “Management is about organization, tracking and adjustment. Leadership is about inspiring the heart and unifying a group of people to meet a common goal. It’s also about creating faith in the future and the belief that we have something good to contribute.”

Victoria Solomon agrees. As the University of Wisconsin Extension community resource development educator with Green County, she coordinates the Wisconsin Local Government Leadership Academy —designed for individuals who want to increase their impact and lead the way to greater results. 

The eight-month program focuses on four specific skill sets: relationships as a foundation for leading for results; communication tools for effective leadership; leaders as effective decision-makers; and visionary leadership. 

“The skills important for effective leadership are essential for teams to be effective,” Solomon explains. “For example, leaders need to have strong communication skills in order to have impact. Leadership development can happen in many ways. It may involve sending employees to trainings. It can also happen through mentoring and coaching employees in day-to-day interactions.” 

Bring the Vision into Focus

Understanding and communicating the company’s vision is vital for leaders and managers to be effective. 

 “It’s essential that employees understand the company’s big picture and how their job plays into achieving it,” says Solomon. “This understanding can help increase employee motivation and engagement.”

Solomon says many factors contribute to employee discontentment. When employees do not understand the big picture, or how their work is important to it, they can easily become upset with their work environment or their position.

Victoria Solomon.

 “Helping employees understand the purpose and values of the business is critical to creating engagement,” Gumina says. “This becomes a self-selecting process. People who resonate with the direction of the company will be highly engaged, and those who don’t will self-select out. Having an open conversation with all employees is the best way to celebrate the positives and face the brutal facts together.”

He says it’s also important that everyone understands how their role contributes to the overall success of the organization in achieving the mission. 

“We carefully crafted a company mission statement that would energize our employees globally. Finding the right words that speak to the numerous cultures and backgrounds within our company was critical.”

Leadership development is also front and center in the minds of larger corporations.

In the midst of all the changes within Syngenta, its first priority was to ensure that all employees felt valued, informed, included and encouraged, and that new hires possessed the qualities and skills needed, and share Syngenta’s commitment to help growers succeed.

“Leadership development and coaching are critical components of our people strategy, and we have embedded them in the way we work,” Deepashri Khare, head of Human Resources for North American Seeds at Syngenta. “We do this through formal leadership development programs that are developed in-house to sponsoring our employees to participate in external programs, and both formal and informal mentoring with senior leaders. We foster an environment that encourages continuous improvement and access to leadership.

“We have developed global and local customized programs to meet the unique development needs of our employees and business.”

Syngenta also has regular interactive sessions with employees that focus on the five-year strategy for the business, and the progress that has been made. 

Deepashri Khare.

“This enables all our teams to write themselves into the Syngenta Seeds story, and see how their work directly impacts and contributes to our business,” Khare adds.

Turning Employees

At some point, ,ost companies will have discontented employees. How the company handles this can often determine success or failure for the business.

“Employees can become discontent due to numerous issues,” says Gumina. “Individual issues are best handled through the supervisor chain of command. For a broader organizational view, we run annual surveys to take a pulse on how we are feeling about the company. These surveys are reviewed for actions that can be taken to address issues and themes that emerge.”

Solomon concurs. “The first step for leaders and managers in encouraging discontent employees is to engage in conversation and sincerely listen to understand the factors contributing to the discontentment. With that understanding, it is possible to identify what may assist in increasing engagement and motivation amongst employees.”