The "Mistakes" of Executive Leaders in the Food & Ingredients Industry
As leaders in the food and ingredients industry are always looking for ways to improve performance, drive results, get products to market faster, and/or secure that next big fundraise. But with so many different leadership styles and techniques available today and openly discussed - you'd think it would be easy to find the right approach to any given situation. But it's not that simple...
In fact, we're currently seeing a lack of effective leadership as a result of the widespread adoption of different models in recent years. Leaders have become so fixated on one specific style that they completely overlook other important factors when making their decisions. This oversight has led us into a perfect storm where many leaders are now actively hurting their organisations rather than helping them succeed.
To avoid this trap, here we have highlighted the key failures of executive leaders in 2022 - which you should consider when making your own decisions if you want to be an effective leader.
The Rise of the Dark Side
One of a leader's most important roles is to be a positive influence on their team members and the organisation as a whole. They should be encouraging collaboration and be actively fighting against any sort of aggressive or unhealthy competition.
Unfortunately, a rising trend we've seen in recent years is the advancement of the 'Dark Side' in leadership. A leader who encourages aggression and competition can cause their team to become combative and inwardly focused. This is especially harmful in the food and ingredients industry, where teams are all working towards launching that next product to market - a collective success.
Leaders who let this Dark Side fester can actively damage their organisation and cause it to lose ground to more collaborative groups or companies.
Strong leaders must be able to recognise when this Dark Side is present and stop it before it completely takes over.
The Culture of "Me"
One of the most significant issues plaguing executive leaders today is what we can call a "culture of me." This is when leaders have become so focused on proving their own importance that they completely ignore the needs of their team members and the organisation as a whole. The best example of this is when leaders set ridiculously high standards that are impossible to meet or unreasonable goals that no team member could reasonably achieve.
This approach can create tension and resentment within the organisation while taking away individual self-confidence in the process. It can also cause some team members to start looking for new jobs because they don't feel challenged enough in their current role.
The culture of me can be extremely damaging to any organisation, and it's something that needs to be actively battled against.
A Crisis in Confidence
Another major trend we've seen in recent years is the lack of confidence in leaders. While it's natural to have some level of uncertainty in yourself, it's become clear that many leaders are completely lacking in confidence.
This can cause them to hesitate during key moments when decisive action is needed. It can also cause leaders to make decisions with their heads rather than their hearts when it comes to decisions about the direction of their organisation.
Leaders who lack confidence can sometimes cause their organisations to stagnate. There are times when decisive action is needed to move the organisation forward. But without confidence, many leaders are unable to take that action.
When you add into the mix just how fast-moving the food and ingredients industry is - any hesitation can mean the difference between success and failure
Lack of Diversity in the Workplace
I know we see and hear a lot of this in the press, and sometimes businesses can feel like they are being force-fed DE&I at times, but you can't ignore the data on just how important the diversity of your team really is.
The best leaders recognise that different approaches are needed to lead different types of people. And with so many different types of people in the world today, the best leaders are those who have a diverse team.
If you're only hiring leaders who think like you and have a similar thought process, you're bound to miss out on many great opportunities and solutions.
The best leaders recognise the importance of diversity and actively seek out team members who can add a new perspective to the conversation.
If you're not doing this - your completely failing.
Finally, one of the most important things to keep in mind is a potential shift in priorities. As leaders, it's critical not to get too attached to any specific model or method. Instead, you need to be flexible and able to recognise when something isn't going to work as well as it once did. For example, a model that has worked wonders for you in the past may not be as effective for a different organisation, product type, market, team and the list goes on. The need to be dynamic and adaptable as a leader has never been more apparent.
Leaders need to be willing to shift their approach as new information comes to light. If you're too attached to one model or method, you can't make use of the latest developments. And that can cause you to fall behind or lose the trust and respect of your teams.
As we transition from the 2020s to the 2030s, we are also transitioning from one type of leadership to another. These transitions are often difficult for organisations and leaders, but they are necessary for progress. To ensure that your organisation thrives, you need to understand the different types of leaders and the new challenges that they face. You also need to understand what you can do to overcome these challenges and lead effectively in a changing world.
The complete failure of executive leadership in 2022 is no more than a type of person that is fixated on old-fashioned management styles. Which, luckily for the food and ingredients industry - are present in a very small number of companies.
What are the biggest mistakes or failures you have seen from leaders? Please comment and share your thoughts.