One Important Truth about Organizational Success that Might Surprise You

April 23, 2017 David Witt

Self Leadership ResearchWhat’s the most important factor in determining organizational success? The answer might surprise you, says Susan Fowler, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.

In reviewing research for the redesign of Blanchard’s Self Leadership program, Fowler found compelling evidence that suggests the single most essential ingredient in organizational success is the proactive behavior of individual contributors.

Drawing on research from several recent studies (see references below), Fowler points to individual behaviors that lead to broader organizational success.

  • Proactively seeking feedback
  • Learning how to sell solutions to problems
  • Taking charge to effect change
  • Getting needs met for direction and support

The bottom line? Organizations benefit from training their workforce in self leadership skills.

As Fowler shares in the video below, “Leadership is a two-sided coin.” Organizations are best served by investing in not only traditional leadership training for managers but also self leadership training for direct reports. When leaders and direct reports have a shared purpose and a common language, the results are that much more powerful.

What’s the Impact of Having Self Leaders?

For more information on the impact self leadership can have on overall organizational success, check out Blanchard’s new white paper, Developing Self Leaders–A Competitive Advantage for Organizations, which looks at the correlations between a self leader’s proactive behaviors, optimal motivational outlooks, and the intentions of employee work passion.

You can download a copy of this white paper at the Blanchard website.


Goal Orientation and Work Role Performance: Predicting Adaptive and Proactive Work Role Performance through Self-Leadership Strategies. Marques-Quinterio, P. and Curral, L. A., The Journal of Psychology, 2012.

Serving one another: Are shared and self-leadership keys to service sustainability? Manz, C. et. al., Journal of Organizational Behavior, 2015.

Thinking and Acting in Anticipation: A Review of Research on Proactive Behavior. Wu, C. and Parker, S., Advances in Psychological Science, 2013.

Self-leadership in organizational teams: A multilevel analysis of moderators and mediators. Konradt, U., AndreBen, P., & Ellwart, T., European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 2008.


About the Author

David  Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

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