At the end of a meeting months after Kelly went through The Leadership Challenge Workshop and took the Leadership Practice Inventory (LPI), one of her team members asked, "So Kelly, are you going to ask what can we learn?" The whole team laughed. Kelly had been practicing Behavior #18 on the LPI, "Asks what we can learn? when things don't go as expected." She had posted the Leadership Behavior Ranking (LBR) next to her desk and had circled this behavior, which was ranked in her "Bottom 10". In her role, she felt she needed to be better at asking "what we can learn" in order to create an environment where people weren't afraid to Challenge the Process and take risks. She began asking that question at the end of every meeting with her team. They caught on and began asking the question themselves.
Kelly's story demonstrates the power of utilizing the LBR as a coaching tool, as well as the power of practicing. Of course, Kelly didn't get much response from the team in the beginning, but she kept on asking. She kept on practicing. And when she repeated her LPI, Behavior #18 was in the Top 5 highest ranking behaviors on her LBR!*
Once you've gotten feedback from those around you regarding your leadership behaviors, you may not be sure where to focus your attention. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that you can use the LBR — a key component of your LPI Feedback Report — to coach yourself as part of your own development journey or to coach others.
Overview of the Leadership Behaviors Ranking (LBR)
The Leadership Behaviors Ranking lists the results of the 30 Leadership Behaviors included in the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI). All of your responses, ranked highest to lowest, are compared to the combined scores of all of your observers. This gives you a great snapshot of your strengths (your "Top 10"), your development areas (possibly your "Bottom 10"), and how well you and your observers are aligned.
- Focus on Alignment
- Which of these behaviors do you think are significant, given my role and our current environment?
- Based on your interactions with me, which of these behaviors do you see as my strengths? Which behaviors do you think are key areas of development for me?
This is a great way to begin to use your LBR. Asterisks placed at the far right of your report (near the Observer scores) indicate leadership behaviors where your scores were significantly different (1.5 points) from those of your observers. These behaviors may be where you want to focus your attention.
As leaders, we want to have the same perception of our leadership behaviors that others do. If we are not aligned with others perceptions of how frequently we engage in leadership behaviors, there is a disconnect in how we lead.
For example, if your Observers tended to rate you higher than you rated yourself, you may have higher or tougher expectations for yourself. How can you recognize the behaviors in your day-to-day interactions? On the other hand, if others tended to rate you lower than you rated yourself, you may be wondering "what's up?" Remember that the LPI measures frequency of behavior, so others aren't necessarily saying that you don't lead as well as you think you do. They may be expecting more frequency in the behaviors, which is where you have the biggest disconnect.
Discuss your results with your manager, trusted peer, or coach
If you'd like to get a better idea of where others feel you need to focus your development efforts, talk to your manager or a trusted peer or coach. Using the LBR as a discussion point, ask them questions such as:
This discussion serves two purposes: it shows those who have provided feedback to you that their thoughts matter; and it helps you focus your leadership development in ways that are beneficial for your organization.
Focus on Your Bottom 10 Behaviors
When focusing on your Bottom 10, recognize that several behaviors of the LPI tend to fall into that category for the population at large. If other leaders in your organization are also participating in the LPI experience, it may be a good idea for the group to focus on those behaviors that you all have in common, such as:
- Inspire A Shared Vision:
#7: Describes a compelling image of what our future could be like.
#12: Appeals to others to share an exciting dream of the future.
#17: Shows others how their long-term interests can be realized by enlisting in a common vision.
Model The Way:
#16: Asks for feedback on how his/her actions affect other peoples performance.
If you participate with a group to focus on these behaviors, you can then determine how you want to focus on the remaining six behaviors in your Bottom 10.
Focus on a Practice
Often leaders find it difficult to develop a particular practice. However, using the LBR to identify each behavior in a practice can help operationalize that practice. Encourage the Heart is a good example of one of the Five Practices that frequently poses challenges for leaders and is especially valuable to consider because it can have such a great effect on the other practices. Sometimes leaders look at the practice as a whole and do not see that each behavior is important. Leaders may think they thank people for the work they do and have celebrations, but wonder why their Encourage the Heart scores are lower than they would like. Maybe leaders are not being as creative as they could be or are not recognizing others based on shared values. You can use the LBR in this case to see which of the behaviors of the practice are ranked highest and lowest. It also may then be helpful to look at the Data Summary in your report for that practice in the LPI to get an idea of what each observer group is saying through the data.
These are just a few ideas to get you started using the Leadership Behavior Ranking in your LPI Report as a coaching tool. Using the LBR can focus your development efforts. It also can help you become more familiar with each leadership behavior so that you can increase the frequency of those behaviors. As you use the tool, remember that Kelly didn't focus on a behavior once or twice; she practiced using the behavior EVERY TIME she was in a situation where she thought it could be used. It's with that practice where we all become better leaders.
*Kelly also focused on Behavior #27, "Speaks with genuine conviction about the higher meaning and purpose of our work" and saw it rise to the Top 5 as well.
Renee Harness is Managing Partner at Third Eye Leadership, where their goal is Inspiring Organizational Strength with Courage and Vision. The partners at Third Eye Leadership are experts in strengthening your bottom-line through evidenced-based leadership experience. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.