The High-Performance Work System and Serving Stakeholders
Leading an organization entails inluencing groups of people to make positive changes that meet stakeholders' needs. This can involve changing the ways people approach their work or changing the work itself.
The work of role model leaders is to move the organization towards the future-state aspiration referred to in this book as the high-performance business organization. At any point in this developmental leadership work, the ideal goal is referred to as the high-performance work system.
The high-performance work system is a collection of work processes and systems and structures that are continuously improving and that have been thought about, designed, and implemented by role model leaders and the organization. Such a system raises the organization's level of performance from that of a conventional, competent, but lower-performing entity to one of increasingly higher levels of performance – that is, higher levels of productivity, quality, and service.
In part one, I introduced a two-part learning framework called the developmental leadership model (Figure 2.3); I then extended the speciic nature of leadership activity and referred to this more reined model as the leadership competency model (see Figure 2.4), which also had two parts: individual leading competency and organizational leading competency. The individual leading competency part of this framework was extended in part two so as to detail the important elements and capabilities required if one is to learn to be a role model leader. These were the skills, character attributes, and purposeful behaviours that the aspiring role model leader must learn.
In part three, I propose a similar approach to understanding the highperformance work system. Here, the learning framework (see Figure 2.4) describes four key sets of work processes that deine the work activities of
leadership required to develop a high-performance work system. Such a system is designed to do the following:
• Serve effectively the needs of all stakeholders in the business organization.
• Improve the viability, vitality, and virtue of the business organization.
The best business organizations direct their efforts towards meeting the needs of people: those who dedicate their time and energy, called employees; those who invest their inancial resources, called owners (and, often, employees); and those who have expectations for the outputs of the business, who are called customers and owners and other elements of society. Customers, owners, employees, and society are the usual stakeholder designations for a proit-oriented business. In a not-for-proit business, we talk instead about beneiciaries, benefactors, and employees. In organizations with little leadership, there is often more emphasis on meeting customers' needs and less emphasis on employees and society.
The deining characteristic of high-performance business organizations – more speciically, of high-performance work processes and systems – is that they strongly emphasize service to all stakeholders. This service to all stakeholders has three principal deining elements: viability, vitality, and virtue; and all three are encountered in abundance in the highperformance work system (and the following chapters will discuss these individually). When all stakeholders are served effectively, the value-add of the organization's processes improves, and so does the spirit and energy of employees. Everyone, inside and outside the organization, sees that it is doing the right things for its stakeholders.
My view is that the purpose of leading business organizations is to improve the lives of people. Also, the main focus when going about this is on improving the functional and material lives of people by providing those within the business with value-add work and those outside it with the beneicial outputs of that work. But this is fully realized only when the people doing the work ind the work experience meaningful and satisfying and when the results of that work are uplifting and motivating for the people in the business.
The work of leaders is vital to the successful business organization. Role model leaders understand the following:
• That it is very dificult to inluence the people in an organization to accept change and follow their leaders' direction unless those people's needs are met along with the business's needs. • That it is even more dificult to inluence people outside the organization to accept change in that organization and to continue to support the business and its leadership unless valuable services are being provided and are seen as being provided.
The relationship between the business organization and its stakeholders encompasses three cascading factors of service: satisfaction, loyalty, and harmony. Each of these requires an increasing level of role model leadership to be exerted within the organization. Each represents a compounding state of common purpose between the stakeholders and the organization, a purpose that moves from satisfaction to loyalty to the most ideal state: harmony.
Below I discuss each of these compounding levels of stakeholder service, recognizing that they are successively more dificult to attain and that each is more beneicial than its predecessor to the organization and its highperformance work system. Furthermore, each requires an increasing level of leadership competence and mental energy.
This irst level of shared purpose is best discussed in terms of the following: internal stakeholder satisfaction (i.e., that of employees) and external stakeholder satisfaction (i.e., that of customers and society).