On Leadership and Assessing Leadership Potential in Yourself and Others

Lee Ellis

Carla, a Senior Vice-President of a Fortune 200 company, has the challenge of evaluating the natural leadership potential of several team members. She had worked with all of them for some time, but she’s unsure about the best criteria to match the needed skills for the job with the potential candidates.

Not only does she want the person in the right role, but she needs someone that can produce results, increase productivity, and manage a cohesive team.

Knowing that 62% of executive decisions are made based solely on gut feelings, she wants to make a better hiring decision by obtaining more concrete data about each candidate.

Where Does She Start?

With over 30 years of research and experience in the fields of human behavior and performance, I believe that it’s unequivocally true that every person is unique and that all leaders (and the people they manage) have different talents. Here are some other confirmations:

  • The best leaders have a mix of natural and learned behaviors.
  • You can confirm that an individual belongs in a specific personality style, but the style categorization should not be used to put people in a “box”.
  • There are no good or bad personality styles to determine leadership ability—just different. Great leaders come from all styles.

So, it’s important to be objective and realize that anyone can become a successful leader.

Results vs. Relationships Evaluated

After evaluating that the base character and integrity of each candidate matches the values of the company, the next step is evaluating their results vs. relationships balance.

We’ve all been there and worked for the leader that got results but had no trusted relationships on their team. They were simply a machine that met the desired goals at any cost. On the flip side, there were the “fun leaders” that wasted hours every day talking and socializing with the team and then scrambled at the last minute to get a few things accomplished. They’re fun to be around, but results and progress ultimately fall short on a regular basis.

Statistically, 40% of leaders are more results (mission) oriented, and 40% are more relationships (people) oriented. The most effective leaders have balanced skills in both results and relationships.

For example, a successful leader must be tough or soft as the situation dictates.

Even though some leaders are naturally either tough or soft, that’s where our learned behaviors come into play to be truly successful.

Communication Style Analyzed

Another key area to evaluate is communication style when interacting with others. Think of the people on your own team or department and how different they are.

While the goal is treat everyone fairly, a successful leader understands the unique differences in people and communicates with them differently.

Some people will need more interaction with their manager than others in order to do a good job, while others are more self-managing. Some people work best when they can more on tasks, while others will work better when their work involves more frequent interaction with others.

The communication needs with these team members are different, too.

Successful leaders also need the courage do to the hard things such as confronting poor performance and bad behavior. It also takes courage for some leaders to do the soft things such as encouraging and supporting their people. Healthy accountability is critical to maintain standards and values, and that’s easier for some leaders to do than others.

All of these examples hinge on the leader’s natural and/or learned ability to communicate in different ways with different people.

The Next Step in Assessing Leaders

While other natural competencies such as problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, and support needed should also be considered, validating the key skills above is a wise endeavor.

To help with Carla’s hiring process, asking the right questions and using an assessment tool for each candidate will give her greater chances for success as she builds her team. With this new found data, she can choose a leader that has the character, courage, and the talent balance to propel the company forward and support a culture of great leadership.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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Adaptive Intelligence: Your Organization’s Cultural Operating System

 

Chamelion

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Civilization needs a new operating system.” ~Paul Hawken

Pressure Test

Here is a quick test to help you understand both emotional and analytical thinking.

What do you normally do when your computer has a glitch and that box pops up inviting you to “report the problem?

  • Do you hit the “yes” button and dutifully wait for the computer to do its analysis and send the message?
  • Or do you hit “no” knowing this issue will rear its ugly head again soon?

There’s complex emotional and analytic thinking behind this decision that is analogous to dealing with annoyances in our working lives.

For example, if you hit “no” you’re deciding that although annoying its a small distraction compared with the important task at hand. However, if you’ll need to follow the same procedure and get the same bug you’re more likely to hit “yes”. You might also consider this to be the software provider’s responsibility; “why should I do their job for them.

(Mind you if everyone hit “no” the consequence of this global “e-silence” is the bug never gets fixed…)

We have the same basic choices with our problems at work. Do we do something about them or put up with it stoically? If enough people fail to report the problem it festers creating an invisible block to personal and organisational effectiveness, competitiveness and eventually achievement.

Sharing Important Information

The power and impact of sharing information was described eloquently by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his TED Talk. – The military case for sharing knowledge.

Sharing is power” ~Gen. Stanley McChrystal

All organisations have limited human, financial and physical resources and must prioritise. For a problem to get over their attention threshold and trigger a response, a certain number of “complaints” must be received.

Managers decide how urgent/big the problem is and determine a response. In other words every user has 100% responsibility over error reporting and the organisation has 100% responsibility for its response.

This is a classical trust-based dynamic relationship.

When it’s working really well, a cultural operating system grows stronger iteratively from the power its crowd feeding back.

A Cultural Operating System

Microsoft’s Windows OS and Apple’s Mac OS are akin to a command and control-based management system where the end-user/staff has modest input.

Whereas, Linux, the epitome of an iterative open source process, is similar to a flat organisational system.

How would an iterative cultural operating system based on the concept of Adaptive Intelligence underpin effectiveness and success?

In “The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky describe Adaptive Leadership as, “an iterative process involving three key activities:

1) Observing events and patterns around you

2) Interpreting what you observe

3) Designing interventions based on 1 & 2.”

I have added some steps to include:

4) Observation of the effects of interventions

5) Flexing interventions to give optimal positive results (Fig. 1).

Fig.1. A dynamic adaptive positive feedback cycle

AI Fig 1

 

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive Intelligence (AQ) is the dynamic expression of our Analytical Intelligence (AQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Positive Intelligence (PQ = internal motivation).

The exact flavour of AQ we deploy needs to be flexed to fit any given changing situation we experience. Operating from imbalanced IQ, EQ or PQ creates inappropriate responses based on habit.

If you want to use more of your AQ become more authentically aware of yourself and others.

Organisations need to develop deeper and broader corporate self-awareness. As a first step you might invite everyone to hit the social equivalent of the “yes” button whenever they observe problems or they have potentially good idea. This virtuous process relies on everyone believing they have influence, will be heard and their input valued and acted on.

This resonates with our software analogy nicely (Figure 2.).

Fig. 2 Comparison of computing and organisational operating systems.

AI Fig 2

Enhanced AQ

Enhanced AQ is delivered by:

  • Raising individual and organisational awareness
  • Transparent communication
  • Authentic trust
  • Objective measurable action.

It is powered by curiosity and authentic feedback and founded on 100% personal responsibility.

Stifled AQ

Poorly functioning AQ-based cultural operating systems are recognised from symptoms including:

  • Poor recruitment
  • High staff turnover
  • Conflict
  • Absenteeism
  • Poor staff engagement
  • Missed opportunities/deadlines
  • Inability to create trends and compete effectively

Long lasting symptomatic improvement comes from paying persistent attention to your cultural operating system (AQ). You keep a healthy AQ system going by constant vigilance, bug fixes (e.g. removing stupid rules), cultural upgrades (e.g. wellbeing-based cultures) and inviting everyone to be more curious about their daily working lives (See – How To Use Your Daily Story As A Powerful Seminar For Achievement).

The essence of intelligence is skill in extracting meaning from everyday experience.” ~Unknown

Flexible Open System

An adaptive iterative cultural process equips leaders with high quality dynamic information as well as the authentic human perceptions which create exciting visions and sustain meaningful change.

Thoughts for today

  • How often do you look under the hood of your organisation’s cultural operating system?
  • Notice to what extent your organisation’s culture relies on its corporate hardware (hierarchy, IT, systems & policies) compared with software (culture & people).
  • How much attention and time do you devote to awareness raising efforts for you and your staff?
  • Do you have a flexible open system for all staff to report problems and ideas?
  • Do you have an adaptive iterative cycle (AIC)?
  • How might you incorporate staff feedback and ideas into your AIC drive to improvement?

Recommended reading

The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky

 

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

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On Leadership and The Value You Bring Your Followers

Value Proposition

So Leaders: What’s your value proposition to your followers?

The employee is regarded by the employer merely in the light of his value as an operative. His productive capacity alone is taken into account.” ~ Leland Stanford

Compelling Value Proposition

In the world of modern sales and marketing, providing customers and clients with a compelling value proposition is the maxim.

  • Companies strive to engage by enticing potential customers with a vision of what life might be like if their pain were removed or they could achieve their dream.
  • Every effort is expended to nurture the customer until they beg to find out how this dream can be realised.
  • Then and only then is the solution provided and heaven help the company that fails to deliver the promised value.
  • This is not an equal exchange of value because modern consumers expect value greater than the money they pay.

Why then do many employers not have the same value proposition approach to their most valuable capital, their employees?

Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” ~ Warren G. Bennis

Making Value Choices

All organisations want to recruit and retain high potential internally motivated staff to achieve the company mission.

>>> So what’s in it for the employee and why should they choose you over other opportunities.

>>> More importantly, what is it you do for them that would make them want to stay? (It is not just about money…)

>>> What is your value proposition for them and how do you intend to deliver it persistently and consistently?

Making Monetary Choices

To paraphrase Vernon Hill at Metro Bank, how do you turn your staff into fans not just your customers?

Telefonica O2 said, “An organisation that does not enlist its own staff to its ‘fan base’ is not maximising its long-term value.

Does it make a financial difference?

Towers Perrin-ISR’s 2006 findings four:

Those companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2 per cent over a period of 12 months, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7 per cent over the same period.

Over a 12 month period, those companies with high engagement scores demonstrated a 13.7 per cent improvement in net income growth whilst those with low engagement saw net income growth decline by 3.8 per cent.

Making Value Propositions

You can find much more on the business benefits of a values proposition to employees in a report to the UK Government “Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement

So, let’s look at the employer/employee relationship at its most basic.

An employee offers their effort and expertise to an organisation and in turn they gain reward most usually but not always in the form of money. Balancing the equation is the hard part. The employee wants a fair reward for a certain level of input and the employer wants the maximum amount of input from the employee for as little as is reasonable to pay them.

It might be expressed as:

Motivation = Perception of benefits minus Perception of costs

The ideal situation arises when an employee invests “above and beyond the call of duty” just because they are motivated to do so by other factors outside of remuneration. Somehow their internal motivation has been triggered and they are self-sustaining. What value can you the employer give to your staff which would likely catalyse this behaviour or at least create the environment for it to develop? Peter Drucker said:

The true business of every company is to make and keep customers.” ~ Peter Drucker

But he also said:

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

If we synthesise the two we might get:

The true business of every company (organization) is to make it easy for its staff to make and keep clients

The Tangible and Intangible Factors

The value given to followers comprises both tangible and intangible factors.

Key contributions might be:

  • Authentic listening
  • Identification of direct interferences restricting employees’ capability to achieve goals
  • Mitigating or removing such interferences

This is essentially the same thinking used daily by sales people to convert a prospect into a customer. Warm the prospect up first with sincere enquiry to identify their pains and dreams and then explain how the pain can be removed or their dreams achieved by your product or service.

You can find a compilation of the personal visions of 12 TED speakers on the subject of inspiring, values proposition-based leadership here.

Sellling The Vision

Ask yourself tehse questions:

  • So, how might your task as a leader alter if you considered your purpose was to “sell” the vision of working (and staying) with your organisation as a value proposition?
  • What value would they receive in “buying” into your offer?
  • How can you maintain, nuance and increase the value they receive in order to keep them?

This does not mean you roll over and give more than you can afford but we are not just talking about the money here. As has been proven so many times the last thing you talk about with sales prospects is the cost the first is what will change for them and by how much. Why would you expect the mindset of your staff to be different?

Your key actions for today

  • In today’s conversations with staff did you add value or take it?
  • Are your organisation’s job adverts value propositions?
  • Review one report’s job description today – on a scale of 1 to 10 is this a value proposition or a description of demands (i.e. tasks and responsibilities).

Further Reading

Drucker on Leadership: New Lessons from the Father of Modern ManagementWilliam A. Cohen PhD

For those will an interest in basic research on the psychology of business:

Harter, Hayes and Schmidt (Gallup, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and University of Iowa) Business-Unit-Level Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

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Articles of Faith: Strong and Courageous Leadership: The Joshua Effect

This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series
here. Published only on Sundays.

An ongoing misperception in leadership is that a strong leader is an authoritative one. For centuries, it was acceptable that a leader must take control of his team and environment with boldness and a dogged determination to get the job done.

In the generation of our parents and grandparents who grew up at a time in history when more than half the men were veterans, the culture was established that “subordinates” followed a chain of command.

That belief was bred in the generations after, and today we still find leaders who are commanding, controlling, and micromanagers.

Finding a Better Way to Lead

To understand a more effective way to lead, we can find one of the best examples in a warrior leader profiled in the Bible.

Joshua was given authority to succeed Moses as the shepherd who would usher the Israelites into Canaan. What made Joshua a successful leader is that he was able to take the helm without disrupting the original plan. Moses had started the journey and nearly completed it before his death.

But then Joshua was instructed by God to complete the trip. He was told three times by God to “Be strong and courageous” suggesting that his efforts would not be without danger and fear. Sometimes those who are given the opportunity to lead feel that the only way to get through the tough times of a mission is to lead by intimidation, threats, and punishment.

This never works. Those who do find that morale declines as does job performance. Joshua helps us to understand that having authority does not mean being authoritative.

On Real Trust

We find in Joshua 1:10 that he “ordered” the officers of the people to go through the camp and tell them to get ready to cross over the Jordan River and enter into hostile territory. He prepared the men to fight the enemies who would surely come against them as they entered in.

But Joshua reminded the people that he had assurances from God that they would have success. He trusted God. He just needed to get the people to trust him as the leader appointed by God on the heels of a phenomenal Sherpa like Moses. He pulled the teams together and encouraged them to support one another.

Then the most satisfying words that any leader could hear came from the people:

“Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses.”

Then just like God they encouraged him to be strong and courageous.

Winning Loyalty and Respect

How did Joshua win the loyalty and respect of this people?

He had three things working in his favor:

  1. The people knew he had been coached and mentored by an established and wise leader like Moses. He had learned from one greater than he, and he was open to correction and training.
  2. He exuded confidence but not cockiness. He was humble enough to know he would not be able to take the land on his own. He would need the help of his team.
  3. He delegated responsibility to the officers and allowed them to go through the camp and give orders to the people in preparation for the big move. He did so without interference. He trusted his people to do what he’d asked them to do, and then he stayed out of their way.

All leaders can learn from Joshua’s confident and inclusive manner of leadership. He was strong but not overbearing, courageous but not arrogant, focused but not inflexible. Inasmuch as he was all these things, he was also wildly successful and prosperous.

Follow his lead.

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———————
Betty Parker, CPLP

Betty Parker is President of Sharper Development Solutions, Inc.
Her daily goal is to turn Managers into Leaders through Training and Coaching.
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Blog | Web

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On Leadership, Feedback and the Fuel of Achievement

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

The experience of giving and receiving feedback at best is a wonderful and enlivening experience, and at its worst can de-motivate and drive wedges between managers and their reports.

As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said “People join companies but leave managers.

So is it the sole responsibility of managers to look after feedback? This theme invites you as a leader to take a more global view of feedback by fundamentally re-framing why it is needed, how it is done, what might be the overall benefits, consequences which can arise and what is everyone going to do about it?

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.” ~ Jack Canfield

Feedback Gone Wrong

A major Achilles heel of typical feedback is that it is only viewed as an interaction between a manager and an individual report or possibly a team. It’s often one-way traffic and an unpleasant experience for those receiving feedback. Reasons for this may arise from poor manager awareness, poor training, pressure, etc. but perhaps the most pernicious is patchiness in the quality and quantity of feedback.

Interpersonal feedback functions best as an integral component of an organisation’s overall multidimensional communications system. The intention is to establish an atmosphere where senior management elicits information, opinion and perceptions from their staff, acts on them and reports back on their actions.

6-Stage Process for Feedback

Jack Stahl’s (Revlon’s CEO) 6-stage process for feedback aligns organisational conversations and manager – report feedback.

 

  Individual & Organisational Feedback
Stage 1 Value the person/people
Stage 2 Identify personal/organisational challenges
Stage 3 Provide targeted meaningful feedback
Stage 4 Identify and agree areas for improvement/development
Stage 5 Identify and agree benefits and consequences of improvement options
Stage 6 Commit your support and reaffirm person/staffs effort and value

 

Feedback is generally most effective when considered as part of staff engagement efforts as described by Gruman and Sacs in their research published in Human Resource management Review.

Setting the Tone

It’s vital for leaders to set the tone by encouraging an overall culture of open information exchange to develop (supported by robust and accessible HR & IT systems) making it possible to:

  1. Provide safe environments to build trust based on knowledge and rapport.
  2. Exchange authentic criticism and affirmative feedback
  3. Establish a cultural norm based on accepted feedback behaviours.
  4. Create feedback based on personal and organisational accountability

Steve Jobs says it all in his interview on managing people and the Apple ideas-based ethos.

He said, ideas always beat hierarchy.”

Re-framing Our Perceptions

If we re-frame our perception of and intention for feedback to mean honest, authentic, empathic, creative, effective  and productive conversation across an entire organisation then great things will follow.

Your Actions Today

  • Does your organisation have a communication system aligned with interpersonal feedback practices?
  • Do your reports get to provide feedback on you do you listen and do you act on it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 most effective) do you know how effective your feedback to reports actually is?
  • Does your organisation act upon synthesised from all staff feedback?

Recommended Reading

Feedback Revolution: -From Water Cooler Conversations To Annual Reviews — HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK – Peter McLaughlin

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

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On Leadership, Fear and The Under Use of Power

Power Button

Years ago I shared an office in a house that had been converted to offices for independent practitioners. One day, in a session with a client, things admittedly got a little noisy.

The next day, I found a typewritten letter under my door, addressed to “The Occupants of Room 4.”

It read:

“On Wednesday April 16th, at approximately 10 am, there was an excessive amount of noise from Room 4 that disturbed the other tenants. Please be reminded this is a shared building, and noise should be kept to a minimum.”

It was signed by Greg, the physical therapist upstairs. I saw this guy every day on my coffee break.

So What’s Up?

Since I know this guy and saw him every day, I wondered why didn’t he simply knock on my door and ask me to keep it down? Or why didn’t he just leave a note in my box, asking me to be more sensitive next time? So in response, I wrote him a note of apology and agreed to keep it down.

But his method of notifying me really bothered me. Why did Greg have to act so bureaucratic when we had a friendly, collegial relationship. I thought about it for weeks, and then it struck me. Greg felt weak.

He was afraid to approach me directly, so he relied on rules, on legalese, rather than on our relationship.

The Under Use of Power

When we think of the misuse of power, our thoughts inevitably fly to the headline grabbers: the tyrants and bullies, schemers and scammers, or our first boss or sixth grade teacher.

Yet surprisingly, some of the biggest power problems stem from under use, not overuse of power.

Like Greg, not being comfortable with power, not identifying with one’s authority, whether it stems from a formal position, or an informal personal power, can cause just as much conflict and mayhem as does the overuse and abuse of power.

As John Adams said:

“It is weakness, rather than wickedness, which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power.”

Immature Understanding of Power

The cliché, “I won’t be like my mother (or father)” holds especially true when it comes to power. We grow up in a context where power was used on us: by parents, siblings, on the playground, by teachers, and other adults. If we’re lucky, we were the beneficiaries of good, healthy uses of power. Chances are we weren’t entirely lucky.

A common response we develop is to blame power and to determine never to misuse it. But, here’s the thing: The more you hate it, the worse you’ll use it. You can’t enact authority simply by vowing “never to be like others.”

Hating power is the worst preparation you can have for occupying a position of authority.

The challenges I see in my coaching practice more often are the “Greg variety,” more often stem from avoiding using our authority, and trying to minimize our power footprint.

But these following behaviors wreak just as much havoc – albeit a different kind of havoc.

4 Misuses of Power

1) Avoiding Difficult Conversations

Trying to avoid one difficult conversation quickly spirals into a department wide mess.

  • A boss who refuses to deal with the conflict on her team, hoping it’ll just “work itself out,” is at risk of losing valuable team members.
  • Teachers who don’t take control of classroom dynamics let unsafe atmospheres detract from learning.
  • Team leaders who won’t intervene when someone dominates the meeting allow projects to degenerate into frustrating and pointless endeavors.
  • Parents who don’t set limits inadvertently teach their children that they’ll always get their way in relationships, and never develop the self-discipline and frustration tolerance necessary to work towards goals.  

Maybe we’re afraid of conflict, or just want to side step the awkwardness, but if things aren’t already ‘working themselves out,’ chances are they will just get worse without some kind of intervention.

2)  Not Making the Tough Call

Discussion airs issues and is good for creative problem solving, and an egalitarian atmosphere is critical for open discussion. But at some point, decisions have to be made. Too much discussion inevitably plunges a group into conflict. If a leader is vague, uncertain, or hesitant to make decisions, it creates chaos, confusion and conflict for others.

People don’t know what to do, outcomes are uncertain, work is often done for naught. And in the leadership void created by uncertainty, people jump in and fight for the reins.

The group can spend a lot of time sorting through conflicts about direction and inevitably get mired in power struggles. When power is not directly inhabited, it doesn’t just disappear but seeps into the interactional field, and is contested there, without awareness and without facilitation.

It’s an extremely exhausting and taxing process for organizations.

3) Using Too Much Ammo

Feeling like you have too little power often leads to the opposite: using more firepower than the situation calls for. If you underestimate your own rank, and are convinced you’re the weaker party, you tend to increase your fire power.

You use too much ammo out of fear you’ll be defeated, or not getting your point across. Whenever we feel one-down, we use extra force. We don’t see that we come across as an aggressor, and then we interpret the other’s defensive response as proof that they are the aggressor.

We then increase our firepower yet again, and suddenly we’re in a runaway escalation of our own making.

4) Relying On rules

Like Greg, who wrote me the officious letter about noise, reaching for a rule before trying to address things through relationship can create rather than resolve conflict. It stems from feeling weak. Unable to represent our side without an ally, we cc the boss, HR, or others onto the email.

Or, we threaten indirectly, by sounding legal or referring to procedures.

But reaching for rules, guidelines, or procedures when things go awry, or as a way to influence someone, should be a last resort, not a first step.

Just because power can be used poorly, and often is used poorly, doesn’t mean we need to avoid it. We need power. We need strength to be direct, to have tough conversations, to take responsibility, to minimize conflict, and most importantly, as leaders, to develop those around us.

So, are you guilty of misusing power by not using it wisely? Or are you subject to this in your workplace, home, or recreational life? How can you improve your understand of power and use it more effectively as you lead others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Julie Diamond

Julie Diamond is a Leadership Consultant, Coach, and Trainer
She specializes in Designing and Delivering Leadership Development Programs
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Blog | Skype: juliediamond8559

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On Ice Cream, Mushrooms, and the Three Ages of Leadership

Alexander the Great

Almost daily I see an article or post telling me leadership is situational. One size does not fit all, they say; we must adapt our leadership behavior to suit the context. Ken Blanchard is the original proponent of situational leadership, but the idea has been adopted by businesspeople everywhere.

Left mostly unexplored, however, is one of the most important contexts for a leader:  their age.

The Leadership Career

I’m not talking about chronological age, but rather the stage we’ve reached in our leadership career. Are we just starting out, perhaps a first-time project manager? Climbing through the ranks, seeking to build our influence across the organization? Or sitting at the peak of our powers (however defined), secure in the fact that at least a few bucks stop at our desk? Each stage has its requirements.

In the March 17, 2008, issue of Fortune, there’s an article by Stanley Bing called “The Seven Ages of Business.” It’s a parody of a Shakespearean soliloquy. In it, Bing scans the seven stages of a leader’s life, from “the tiny associate” all the way up to “the chairman, the bee at the center of the hive.”

It’s a terrific article, but I believe the ages of leadership can be compressed to just three: the New Leader, the Rising Leader, and the Tenured Leader. To understand these stages, let’s look at three great leaders of ancient times: their traits, their mottoes, and the foods they might have Instagrammed were they alive today.

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The New Leader: Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)

  • Peak decade: His twenties
  • Famous for: Setting off at age twenty to overthrow the Persian Empire, and succeeding; being one of the first leaders to think strategically about military campaigns and utilize inventive battle formations; gaining the fanatical loyalty of his troops by fighting alongside them and sharing their hardships.
  • Food he’d Instagram: Ice cream. Legend says he invented it. According to Plutarch, while on the march through cold countries Alexander would have his cook mix snow with wine and honey, thereby creating the first iced dessert. If the story is true, we have him to thank for a good chunk of the world’s happiness over the past two thousand years.
  • Character traits: Boldness, creativity, good humor
  • New Leader’s Motto: “Lean in.” For a new leader, Sheryl Sandberg’s advice is spot on. But don’t be a pushy jerk. Instead, be like Alexander: go first, think creatively, and lead by example. If you have an idea for color-changing ice cream, now’s the time to put it out there.

The Rising Leader: Julius Caesar (100-44 BC)

  • Peak decade: His forties
  • Famous for: Working his way up from obscurity; conquering Gaul and a few other regions; using a combination of military prowess, astute alliances, and self-promotional tactics to topple the Roman Republic and become the first supreme leader of Rome and all its territories.
  • Food he’d Instagram: Asparagus. At a banquet at the home of one of his allies, Caesar was served a dish of asparagus that had been mistakenly dressed with ointment instead of oil. He swallowed it with no sign of disgust and later chastised one of his retinue who complained. “He who reflects on another man’s breeding shows he wants it as much himself,” he said.
  • Character traits: Diplomacy, generosity, political savvy
  • Rising Leader’s Motto: “People first.” Caesar was a master of alliances and saw his supporters as his best and surest guard. Like him, rising leaders must take care to build coalitions at all levels and avoid ticking people off. Be prepared to eat some messed-up asparagus rather than insult your dinner host.

The Tenured Leader: Emperor Claudius (10 BC – 54 AD)

  • Peak decade: His fifties
  • Famous for: Being considered an embarrassment due to his limp, mild deafness, and stammer; surviving the purges of Tiberius and Caligula’s reigns; becoming Emperor of Rome at age 51; building roads, harbors, and aqueducts; conquering Britain.
  • Food he’d Instagram: Mushrooms. Canny and careful, Claudius managed to survive the murders and executions that decimated his extended family after the death of Augustus Caesar. Once he became emperor, however, it wasn’t so easy to fly under the radar. A dish of mushrooms—one of his favorite foods—was his undoing. Most accounts say they were poisoned by his wife, Agrippina, who wanted to ensure her son Nero’s succession to the throne.
  • Character traits: Integrity, judgment, circumspection
  • Tenured Leader’s Motto: “Look before leaping.” The biggest trap for a tenured leader is over-confidence. It doesn’t occur to us that our long-time favorite strategies might stop working or that our flatterers might not have our interests at heart. So, proceed with caution. Snarfing down that tasty dish of mushrooms could be a fatal error.

What stories do you have that illustrate the ages of leadership? What other mottoes would you propose for each stage? And which would you rather eat: ice cream, asparagus, or mushrooms?

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———————–
Jocelyn Davis

 Jocelyn Davis is Founder and CEO of Seven Learning
She is an Author, Speaker, and Consultant on Leadership Issues
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Image Sources: romandudes.com

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