Further reading to support The Five Practices:
Bennis, W., On Becoming a Leader. Reading, MA: Perseus, 1994.
Burns, J. M., Leadership. New York: HarperCollins, 1978.
Collins, J., Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don?t. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Editor, Business Leadership: A Jossey-Bass Reader. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
Gardner, H., Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership.New York: Basic Books, 1995.
Gardner J., On Leadership.New York: The Free Press, 1990.
Kouzes, J. M., and Posner, B. Z., The Leadership Challenge, third edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
Peters, T., Re-imagine! New York, DK Publishing, Inc., 2003.
Schein, E., Organizational Culture and Leadership,second edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.
Armstrong, D., Managing by Storying Around: A New Method of Leadership. New York:Doubleday, 1992.
Block, P., The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting On What Matters. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2002.
Bronson, P., What Should I Do with My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question.New York: Random House, 2001.
Covey, S., The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.
De Pree, M., Leadership Is an Art. New York: Doubleday, 1989.
Greenleaf, R., Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1983.
Kouzes, J. M., and Posner, B. Z., Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.
Maister, D., Practice What You Preach: What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture.New York: The Free Press, 2001.
Palmer, P., Let Your Life Speak: Listening to the Voice of Vocation.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.
Pearce, T., Leading Out Loud: Inspiring Change Through Authentic Communications (new and revised). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
Bennis, W., Spreitzer, G., and Cummings, T., editors, The Future of Leadership: Today?s Top Leadership Thinkers Speak to Tomorrow?s Leaders.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
Clarke, B., and Crossland, R., The Leader?s Voice: How Your Communication Can Inspire Action and Get Results! New York: SelectBooks, 2002.
Halpern, B. W., and Lubar, K. Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate, andInspire. New York: Gotham Books, 2003.
Hamel, G., Leading the Revolution.Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.
James, J., Thinking in the Future Tense: Leadership Skills for the New Age.New York:Simon & Schuster, 1996.
Leider, J., and Shapiro, D., Whistle While You Work: Heeding Your Life?s Calling. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2001.
Nanus, B.,Visionary Leadership: Creating a Compelling Sense of Direction for Your Organization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.
Schwartz, P., The Art of the Long View. New York: Currency, 1991.
Sterling, B., Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years.New York: Random House, 2003.
Wheatley, M., Leadership and the New Science. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1992.
Blum, A., Annapurna: A Woman?s Place, twentieth anniversary edition. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1998.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. New York: BasicBooks, 1997.
Farson, R., and Keyes, R., Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation. New York: The Free Press, 2002.
Gladwell, M. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. New York: Little, Brown, 2005.
Heifitz, R., and Linsky, M., Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
Foster, R., and Kaplan, S., Creative Destruction: Why Companies T hat Are Built to Last Underperform the Market?and How to Successfully Transform Them.New York: Currency, 2001.
Moss Kanter, R., Stein, B., and Jick, T. D., The Challenge of Organizational Change: How Companies Experience It and Leaders Guide It.New York: The Free Press, 1992.
Kelley, T. with Littman J., The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America?s Leading Design Firm.New York: Currency Doubleday, 2001.
Klein, G., Intuition at Work: Why Developing Your Gut Instincts Will Make You Better at What You Do. New York: Currency Doubleday, 2003.
Patler, L., Tilt! Irreverent Lessons for Leading Innovation in the New Economy.Oxford, England: Capstone, 1999.
Abrashoff, M., It?s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy. New York: Warner, 2002.
Blanchard, K., Carlos, J., and Randolph, A., The Three Keys to Empowerment.San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1999.
Bennis, W., Ward Biederman, P., Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 1997.
Block, P., The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987.
Buckingham, M., and Coffman, C., First, Break All the Rules: What the World?s Greatest Managers Do Differently. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.
Cherniss, C., and Goleman, D., Eds, The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace: How to Select for, Measure, and Improve Emotional Intelligence in Individuals, Groups, and Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
Cialdini, R., Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.New York: Perennial Currents, 1998.
Fisher, R., and Ury, W., Getting to Yes. New York: Penguin, 1988.
Goleman, D., Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam, 1998.
Gladwell, M., The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference.Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 2002.
O?Reilly, C., and Pfeffer, J., Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People.Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.
Stack, J., and Burlingham, B., A Stake in the Outcome: Building a Culture of Ownership for the Long-Term Success of Your Business.New York: Currency Doubleday, 2002.
Surowiecki, J. The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. New York: Doubleday, 2004.
Branden, N., The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.
Blanchard, K., Lacinak, T., Tompkins, C., and Ballard, J., Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships.New York: The Free Press, 2002.
Gostick, A., and Elton, C., Managing with Carrots: Using Recognition to Attract and Retain the Best People.Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2001.
Deal, T., and Deal, M. K., Corporate Celebrations: Play, Purpose, and Profit at Work. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1998.
Hemsath, D., and Yerkes, L., 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1997.
Kouzes, J. M., and Posner, B. Z., Encouraging the Heart: A Leader?s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.
Langer, E., Mindfulness. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1989.
Nelson, B., 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, second ed. New York: Workman Publishing, 2005.
Conger, J., and Benjamin, B., Building Leaders: How Successful Companies Develop the Next Generation of Leaders.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.
Kotter, J., and Cohen, D., The Heart of Change: Real Life Stories of How People Change.Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
McCall, M., High Flyers: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders.Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1998.
Charan, R., Drotter, S., and Noel, J., The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
Fullan, M., Leading in a Culture of Change, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.
Fullan, M., The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007.
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., and McKee, A., Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
Intrator, S. and Scribner, M., Leading from Within, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007.
Senge, P., et al. eds., Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization.New York: Currency/Doubleday, 1994.
Schwartz, M., ed., Leadership Resources: A Guide to Training and Development Tools, eighth edition. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership, 2000.
Tichy, N. with Cohen, E., The Leadership Engine: How Winning Companies Build Leaders at Every Level.New York: HarperCollins, 1997.
Q: In looking forward to the decade in front of us, what is one important trend in leadership to consider?
A: Here's what two professors have to say about innovation today: Professors von Krough and Raisch (Harvard Business Review, Oct., 2009) uncovered what we think may be a future trend for leaders to notice—a strategy related to innovation. Global companies "most successful at achieving growth through innovation tend to devote their energies to a small number of breakthrough ideas." They "put innovation on the top of the agenda, work across functional and divisional boundaries, and empower employees with an entrepreneurial mind-set."
That's quite a "to do" list but the companies they highlight (Proctor and Gamble, Nestle, GE and BMW) are examples of champions in which their shareholder returns were nearly double those of other Global 500 companies.
How does this trend trickle down to leaders in small and large companies? Conservative thinking as it relates to breakthrough ideas seems to oppose the business plan of many leaders who believe that they must have a large inventory of creative ideas to succeed. To stay competitive, they find comfort in a constant pipeline of innovation. According to the professors' research, however, reducing the number of initiatives and cutting costs to redistribute dollars to R&D results in greater rewards and profits. Apparently, no matter the size of an organization, when it comes to innovation, the trend seems to be that leaders need to think "less is more" in order to grow.
Last summer, we posted a blog entry on an ad campaign that was humorous and anti-trend but factual. It's a good example of a company staying with their original brand that had staying power.
"Next time your breakfast consists of Post's Shredded Wheat, consider the CEO's message from their recent ad campaign: "Progress is Overrated". He takes a jab at the idea that progress has taken us to a better place. He explains that by stating, "Throughout the years our product has not changed since it was introduced over a hundred years ago. It's natural, 100% whole wheat and free of additives." Read more or comment on our blog.
Pat Schally, a consultant with Sonoma Leadership Systems, is editor of the newsletter, The Leader's Almanac. The intent of the Almanac is to generate ideas, inform and engage leaders everywhere. Sonoma Leadership Systems is the #1 provider of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, training, and materials. Click here for more information on upcoming public workshops.
Here are some video resources to use in discussing The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. The films are sorted into a general leadership category along with each of The Five Practices. Before showing to a large audience, please reference the section titled LEGALITY ISSUES.
Have your own favorite films, television shows, and other video resources that exemplify The Five Practices? We invite you to share these with us here.
A special thank you to and Caitlin Clarke and Michele Poché Flaherty for advice and the information provided.
12 Angry Men
A jury deliberates over a boy’s fate; one juror opposes the rest.
King Leonidas leads 300 men to fi ght the Persians to save Sparta.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Professor Aronnax joins an expedition to investigate a number of disappeared ships, and meets Captain Nemo of the Nautilus.
The true story of soldiers who gave their lives to save the new Republic of Texas.
A story about a mutiny on a slave ship traveling to America in 1839, the man who led the mutiny, and an abolitionist lawyer takes on their case.
Angels In the Outfield
Angels help a boy who prays for a family if the California Angels win a game.
Three brothers join the French Foreign Legion, and two of them plot a mutiny.
Based on the Herman Melville novel. Billy is a British Navy seaman in 1797 who is accused of murdering his ship’s master-at-arms.
William Wallace brings the Scots together to fight British rule.
Three Australian lieutenants shoot prisoners under orders and are then court marshaled as scapegoats.
Chariots of Fire
Two track athletes compete in the 1924 Olympics, one Jewish and the other Christian.
Courage Under Fire
A US Army officer investigates a female commander’s eligibility for the Medal of Honor.
Don Quixote's Lessons for Leadership
Don Quixote's persistence in vision and commitment is told through narration, conversations with leaders, and various clips.
A base commander becomes deranged and starts a nuclear holocaust with the Soviet Union.
Edge of America
An African-American English teacher is begins coaching the girls basketball team.
The North and South battle at Gettysburg in the definitive Civil War conflict.
In 1966, Coach Don Haskins steers the first all-African-American college basketball team to the championships.
The Civil War’s first all-African-American volunteer company, led by Robert Gould Shaw, challenges prejudice at home and with the enemy.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
A teacher and former boarding school housemaster revisits his career and his true love after sixty-six years of teaching.
The Great Escape
During World War II, escape artist POWs attempt to have several hundred of their fellow POWs escape from a Nazi camp. PART ONE: OVERVIEW | _PAGE 42
A high school swim champion enrolls in the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he learns from a famous rescue swimmer.
Two African-American boys struggle to become college basketball players.
The Last of the Mohicans
The British and French battle for control of North America in the French and Indian War.
The Last Samurai
An American military officer is hired by Japan’s Emperor to defeat the Samurai. After he is captured by the enemy he adopts Samurai culture.
The Longest Day
The events of the D-Day invasion at Normandy in World War II, told from the perspectives of the British, German, U.S. and French.
Men of Honor
The story of Carl Brashear, the first African-American US Navy diver, and his coach.
Spanish Jesuits travel to a South-American Indian tribe to build a mission and end up fighting to protect the tribe from Portuguese assailants.
When two greasers are assaulted by a rival gang and Johnny kills one of the attackers, tension grows between the gangs.
Farmer Benjamin Martin leads the American Revolution’s Colonial Militia after a British officer kills his son.
The Power of One
A young English boy named Peekay grows up as the only English boy in an Afrikaans school. He fights to teach English to the natives, to build a promising future for Africa.
The Red Tent
The leader of a failed 1928 Arctic expedition recalls what happens on the airship “Italia”.
Rudy, always told he was too small to play college football, is determined to play for Notre Dame.
During the two-week Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, this film dramatizes how President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and others handled the situation.
We Were Soldiers
The first major Vietnam War battle and the American soldiers that fought.
The early years of Elizabeth I’s reign over England.
Forrest Gump lives his life with integrity, doing the right things.
A young teacher gives her class of at-risk students a voice, fighting an apathetic education system.
The patriarch of a mafia dynasty gives over control to his son, who develops as a leader.
The Hunt for Red October
The Soviet Union’s nuclear submarine captain, Marko Ramius, defects. CIA analyst Jack
Ryan follows his instincts with his commander’s blessing.
Tibet’s fourteenth dalai lama is schooled in Lhasa as a monk; the Chinese invade Tibet when he is 14, and he is forced into government. In 1959, he flees to India.
Knute Rockne All American
The story of Notre Dame coach and football player Knute Rockne.
The Red Badge of Courage
An adaptation of Stephen Crane’s novel about a Civil War soldier who strives to find his courage to fight.
Based on a true story, a lawyer in the 1950s discovers that a TV quiz show is being fixed.
The Shawshank Redemption
Two prisoners become friends over the years they spend together, finding hope.
Deloris Van Carter coaches nuns into becoming a choir.
Scene: St. Crispin’s Day speech.
Pay It Forward
Scene: Kevin Spacey introduces the idea of possibility to his class.
The Lion King
Thinking he killed his father, Simba flees his community and his throne. After exile, he returns home to overthrow his uncle and reclaim the kingdom.
Lord of the Flies
A group of military schoolboys become stranded on an island and develop their own society, with terrifying results.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The third film of the LOTR trilogy: Aragorn comes back into power, bringing all different factions together to fight.
The story of Herb Brooks, the coach who shepherded the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the Russian team.
The story of Harvey Milk, a businessman and activist who became California’s first openly gay elected official.
Remember the Titans
The true story of an African-American coach as he coaches his racially integrated high school football team.
Saving Private Ryan
A group of US soldiers retrieve a paratrooper from the enemy whose three brothers have been killed in action.
Antarctic scientists are confronted by a parasitic alien, forcing them to step up in a crisis.
All the President’s Men
Two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, discover and pursue the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation.
Scene: Ken Mattingly’s improvisation saves the day, and Krantz orders innovation from his crew, saving lives.
An ex-marine teacher challenges convention to connect with her inner-city students.
Dead Poet’s Society
John Keating challenges convention with his heroic, albeit unconventional, leadership style.
A Few Good Men
Military lawyer Daniel Kaffee defends Marines accused of murder, who say they were ordered to kill.
Norma Rae transforms from a cog in the wheel to a union organizer.
A Harlem street drummer is recruited to play at a Southern university, but learns that it takes patience to be a leader.
A single mom brings a class action lawsuit against a California power company that’s been polluting a city’s water supply and poisoning its residents.
The assassination of Rome’s would-be ruler has calamitous consequences for the state.
To Kill a Mockingbird
In the 1920s South, Atticus Finch defends an African-American man against a rape charge.
A Man for All Seasons
English chancellor Sir Thomas More stands up to King Henry VIII, who wants to break from the Catholic church to obtain a divorce.
The true story of a coal miner’s son named Homer Hickam, who, inspired by the first Sputnik launch, decided to take up rocketry.
General George S. Patton, Jr.’s brilliant war strategies during World War II almost prevent his success.
An amateur boxer gets a chance to fight a heavyweight champion.
Schindler uses cheap Jewish labor to start a factory in Poland during WWII, then turns his factory into a refuge for them, saving 1000 Jews from being gassed at Auschwitz.
A young Maori girl fights to become the new chief of her tribe against their patriarchal traditions.
Coach Dale brings his team together by enabling the players to act.
Amazing Grace (1974)
An elderly woman in Baltimore organizes her community against untrustworthy politicians.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
A captive British colonel oversees his men’s construction of a bridge for the Burma-Siam railway.
Black Hawk Down
U.S. soldiers go to Somalia to capture two lieutenants of a renegade warlord and become entrenched in a battle with a huge force of Somalis.
An African-American teen writing prodigy finds a mentor in a reclusive author.
A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves,
and pursue education beyond high school.
K-19: The Widow Maker
When Russia’s first nuclear submarine malfunctions on its maiden voyage, the crew must race to save the ship and prevent a nuclear disaster.
Lean On Me
The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school that he is determined to improve.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Upon arrival at a mental institution, a rebel rallies the patients together to take on the oppressive Nurse Ratched.
Stand and Deliver
A teacher inspires his underachieving students to learn calculus to build up their self esteem and do so well that they are accused of cheating.
Scene: Kevin Bacon teaches Chris Penn how to dance.
William Wallace, a commoner, unites the 13th Century Scots in their battle to overthrow English rule.
An up-and-coming pitcher learns to move from doing something oneself to teaching others.
To avoid a potentially explosive scandal when the U.S. President goes into a coma, an affable temp agency owner with an uncanny resemblance is put in his place.
An ex-marine teacher struggles to connect with her students in an inner city schools.
A band director recruits a Harlem street drummer to play at a Southern university.
The story of the American bomber crew of the “Memphis Belle”, following the crew through the last flight they must survive in order to go home.
Mr. Holland’s Opus
A composer-turned-high-school teacher finds happiness over the years while he’s busy making other plans.
School of Rock
A wannabe rock star substitute teacher turns his class into a rock band, building his team of students and helping them achieve their dreams.
Iron Jawed Angels
Women activists in the women’s suffrage movement help American women garner the right to vote.
A dramatization of George Washington’s life in 1776, focusing on his crossing of the Delaware River and attack of British forces at Trenton.
The Eleanor Roosevelt Story
A biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, focusing on her work on civil rights and her position as US representative to the United Nations and chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, where she was a major contributor to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
To Hell and Back
The true story of Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in U.S. history. Based on Audie Murphy’s autobiography.
Biographical account of Harry Truman’s rise to presidency.
Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided
This miniseries weaves together the lives of Abraham and Mary Lincoln.
Band of Brothers
The story of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne division and their mission in WWII Europe.
A 24-part series featuring the relationships between the U.S, the Soviet Union and their allies during the Cold War.
The Office (U.S)
The West Wing
12 O’Clock High
Office Space (comedy)
Scene: Any scene with Lumberg
Monty Python and The Holy Grail (comedy)
Scene: The King leaving his son’s room in the castle.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
A documentary about the Enron corporation and its unscrupulous business practices.
In addition to the movies and television shows listed above, we have a number of links to video clips listed below.
Desmond Tutu on leadership
Nelson Mandela on creative leadership
Glengarry Glen Ross speech (PG13 for language)
"Scrubs" JD on leadership (PG13 for language)
Queen Rania on education
Please check the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) site prior to showing films.
So let me talk about paper cuts. You know how when you get a paper cut, you bleed a little bit and it hurts. What happens if you get another paper cut and it bleeds a little bit and it hurts? And then you get another paper cut and it bleeds a little bit and it hurts. And again and again and again and again and again. Soon it's going to hurt a whole lot, and one of two things is going to happen: either you are going to be in great pain, or you are going to bleed to death. Now, why isn't that exactly the same every single time we violate one of our closely-held values. Every time we violate one of our closely-held values, it's like getting a paper cut. Now perhaps it hurts just a little bit, and you bleed just a little bit, and you say you will get over it. But if the pattern persists and you allow yourself to continuously violate closely-held values, sooner or later it hurts so much that something happens that fundamentally changes you—either because you are in such great pain, (unless you can live with that pain), or because you bleed to death. No, you don't literally bleed to death, but you figuratively bleed from the spirit, so much so that you cease to have a conscience around that value. It disappears. You know the expression, "that is a bloodless guy" or "that person is bloodless." What does that mean? It means the person is unfeeling. So, in our case, it means that we have lost the ability to feel, to connect spiritually and consciously with that closely-held value.
Here is an example. A few months ago I went into the Apple store at the Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California. I was going to buy a battery for my laptop, a carrying case for my iPod and a new power cord. And just as I was approaching the register, the gentleman who was helping me asked: "Are you an educator?" I hesitated, and I said "well no; well yes." I said, "Listen, I am in private business, but my business is education," which is what I do. And he said, "Well do you teach at university?" I said, "Oh yeah." And he said, "can I see your university ID?" And I showed him my ID from University of California, Berkeley from which I have an ID card as a member of the faculty. Now that ID card had expired. I was no longer member of the faculty; that had been 2 years earlier.
But I got away with bending the truth. No, knowingly misrepresenting the truth. My faculty ID card allowed me $5 off on one purchase and $8 off on another. Total was a $13 discount. So I got a $13 discount on a $260 purchase because I was willing to bend the truth about whether I was currently teaching at UC Berkley. You might say, c'mon, so what, it's no big deal. And maybe it isn't a big deal, but it's a paper cut and I felt it. I felt the hurt. I felt the hurt for having intentionally and knowingly lied for the sake of $13. Basically I was willing to compromise one of my closely-held values—daring to be true—for $13.
So let me tell you what I did to try to regain a personal semblance of integrity. I went back to the store, back to the salesman, and said that I was really only a lecturer, and I was not really employed by UC Berkley. What I did not do was just fess up and say "I just lied to you." That was my pride kicking in. That was my lack of humility kicking in. I did not say, "I'm not really entitled to this."
I am able to relate all of these events and thoughts so vividly because I recorded them on my iPod literally 5 minutes after this happened. As I re-listen to my voice, I can hear that I am in pain for having violated the value that I hold most dear—daring to be true. I hear myself shouting, "for $13, I am in pain." Were you to hear the tone of my voice, you would know and hear that I am extremely mad at myself.
Was that worth $13?
Now, I eventually got over this. But this reminds me once again that there are some things, some guiding principles that really are not negotiable. And it hurts a whole lot more to violate them than it does to hold them with tremendous and utmost respect, and to honor them.
If my pattern were such that I had just said: "well, that's not such a big deal," I would probably not think twice when I repeated the same kind of small cheating elsewhere and then elsewhere and then elsewhere. I would probably not think much of it because in the grand scheme of things, I might think that it wouldn't amount to anything.
But it does amount to something. In the grand scheme of things, each time I repeat the same kind of small cheating, I am cutting myself. I am bloodletting. I am bleeding to death spiritually. If I don't love myself, or care about myself enough to hold myself to a standard that I admire, it is going to negatively affect the way that I think of myself.
If I don't admire myself, if I don't love myself, and if don't care about myself, then it is also entirely probable that other people will feel and experience my personal lack of love and caring and commitment. So, if I am in a position of leadership, am I going to be somebody who is going to inspire other people, or am I going to be somebody who gives them pause? I suspect that I would be somebody who would give them pause because they would not quite be sure if I am real or credible. From my own perspective, looking inwardly, I would be sure that I am not credible if I were repeatedly unwilling or unable to hold myself to the standards of my values and guiding principles.
So what is the lesson I draw from this incident? I don't intend for this to become a pattern. What I do intend is that this small incident once again remind me that I and every one of us is fallible, that everyone of us trips up and every one of us is prone to these small paper cuts. What I implore myself to do, and what I implore all of you to do is to take heed when it hurts. Take heed when you cut yourself and ask: "what did I do here to contribute to this hurt?" Learn from it, grow stronger from it. Grow stronger in your resolve and your commitment to adhere to your closely-held values. Grow stronger in your resolve and your commitment to model the way of being and living for which you want to be known and remembered. The result will be a strengthening of yourself that other people around you will feel and sense and admire and want to emulate.
This is how each one of us creates a stronger world, a more principled world, a more purposeful world - the kind of world we want to work in, the kind of world we want to live in, the kind of world we want our children to live in. That is how each one of us models the behaviors we want our own children to embrace and defend. Living, behaving and acting consciously and purposefully in accordance to our closely-held values is not the easiest thing to do. It is hard. But the rewards are tremendous-the rewards of feeling solid and feeling whole and feeling integrated—mind, body and spirit.
"Be the light that you want to see in this world" as Gandhi said. Behave, speak and act consciously and purposefully in accordance to your own closely-held values. Be the person that your children, your colleagues, your friends, and you would choose to emulate. No paper cuts.
© 2005 Peter Alduino
Peter Alduino is President and Founder of Bridge Group Communications, LLC, a San Francisco Bay Area-based consulting practice providing customized leadership development seminars, executive coaching, and custom design and facilitation of mission-critical internal and off-site meetings for executive teams, management teams and project groups. You can reach Peter directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-762-4027.
In the ongoing Characteristics of Admired Leaders survey measurements, the attribute of competence has consistently been one of the four most frequently selected items (by approximately 68% of respondents), indicating that people have a strong expectation that their leaders know what they are doing. But with virtually every facet of the business economy plummeting over the past few months, the question of competence has been gnawing at me. Specifically, where is it? Where are the capabilities required to lead companies (and the country, for that matter) forward? Based on recent performance scorecards, competence appears to be lacking.
It is often said that anyone can steer a ship in calm waters, but it takes competence at the helm to navigate treacherous seas—like the ones we now find ourselves in. And my perception is that very few people in senior leadership positions—whether in the public and private sector—are competent to effectively navigate in the crippling times we are currently encountering. During what we once called the 'calmer' waters of the early 2000s, growth (or at least the illusion of it) was literally taken for granted. But look what has happened since the economic storms moved in. There appears to be more reactive behavior than proactive, innovative action.
I am likely not the only one disappointed with the current performance of our business and government leaders. But, why should this competence shortage be surprising? Most of those in leadership positions today have never had to deal with the situations they are now confronting. While they may be seasoned leaders, that doesn't mean they are fully capable of dealing with everything thrown their way. However, keep in mind: we know that the best leaders—TLC-type leaders—take on the task of constantly preparing themselves for unknown challenges. They are continuously learning, experiencing, blundering, and learning some more. I wonder if too many of our current leaders got caught up in the belief that the seas would always be relatively calm and that their positions automatically made them competent to steer the ship.
Consider Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, at the helm when US Airways flight 1549 needed to be brought to safety—in the Hudson River. Last I looked, learning how to fly a glider was not mandatory for pilots, but many people are forever grateful that Sully had taken the time to build his capabilities. The life-threatening, emergency situation he was thrown into was an entirely new and unprecedented challenge for him. Yet, in his interview on 60 Minutes, he commented that he was absolutely certain he could safely land his plane on the water. What a statement! Never forget that competence builds confidence.
Although there are many areas in which leaders must be competent, there are three (perhaps a bit unusual ones) on which I hope future leaders will continue to focus development time and energy.
Let us hope that all leaders will add these three important factors to what they must do well in order to navigate through the treacherous seas of our time.
Steve Coats is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm, and a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Master Facilitator. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers in several countries around the world. He can be reached at email@example.com
Take Gary McGee, for example, a Campus President at Harrison College, whose campus vision statement includes the values of hope and humor. Taking those values into the public space, Gary created a side-by-side board, with one side dedicated to "Hope" and the other to "Humor." He invited others to put postings or drawings or notes onto the bulletin board and created a buzz. "People immediately started posting things," Gary said. "Of course there were more things on the Humor side, but I was just happy to get people thinking about the importance of sharing values."
Donna Hirsch, 2nd Vice President of Organizational Development at Trustmark Companies, and her team created buzz in a different way. After facilitating the Values Experience with all 2,500 employees, the team worked to keep the values conversation alive. They kicked off their first-ever "Values Month" this past June by giving people the opportunity to share their values in a unique way: on each floor of the company atrium, they posted yards and yards of white paper for employees to write about, draw, and otherwise depict their values. Trustmark also instituted a "WeekEND Message" where senior leaders throughout the organization volunteer to write an article to share. Each Friday, via e-mail, they convey their thoughts and ideas, focused on their top five values. The practice has definitely caught on. Now, every Friday, leaders at every level are reaching out to others with stories that speak to their values.
Creating commitment through personal values is exactly what leaders like Gary and Donna do to make their environments ones where people want to work.
Renee Harness, Managing Partner of Third Eye Leadership, is a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and also co-author, with Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, of The Leadership Practices Inventory Action Cards: Facilitator's Guide and The Leadership Challenge Values Cards Facilitator's Guide. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like me, you may have heard any one of the following comments:
"Our group is too intelligent for this!"...or
"The Leadership Challenge isn't complex enough for our group."...or
"I'm searching for an application at the Senior Executive Level, and this won't work for that."
Sometimes when sharing The Leadership Challenge with others, I hear responses like these. Essentially, the confusion begins with the mistaken perception that understanding something is equivalent to being able to do something. I agree and believe that the model is simple. I also I see this as a HUGE advantage. This simplicity allows leaders at every level of an organization to understand what TLC is all about—which is essential to building organizational consistency. However, as we have come to understand, leadership is behavior, and it is perceived in the eyes of our various constituencies.
Because we know about The Five Practices, or the Ten Commitments, or the 30 behaviors (which by itself would be a nice accomplishment), it does not mean that we can actually do anything. To be able to do something about or with this knowledge, we have to be able to apply the information in a very practical way, in a behavioral context.
By comparison, I can understand how one snow skies. I get the basic requirements and believe I can identify the necessary equipment. I also can explain the force of gravity on the mountainside, combined with the resistance of light or heavy snow. None of this knowledge translates into an ability to ski. (As will potentially painfully clear the moment an attempt is made to gracefully exit the ski lift for the first time.)
Yes, The Leadership Challenge model is simple—a simple, clear, evidence—based strategy to achieve unfulfilled potential. But 'simple' does not by any means mean easy!
The next time you hear "this is too simplistic for our group," what you really may be hearing is an open invitation for someone to demonstrate The Five Practices behaviors that are proven to have a positive impact and influence on the experience of others! So, how do you demonstrate this behavior?
Craig Haptonstall is president and CEO of Leadership Mechanics LLC and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. An experienced and results—oriented speaker and coach whose corporate career has included positions with Southwest Airlines and The Tom Peters Company, he can be reached at www.leadershipmechanics.com.
At International Leadership Associates (ILA), we have been working with The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® for close to a quarter century. Conceived by authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, this powerful leadership model is detailed in their book, The Leadership Challenge, first released in 1987 and now in its 4th edition as Jim and Barry have continued to further develop and share the richness of their ideas and the practices.
Today, it seems that there are as many leadership models floating around as there are models of automobiles. And as expected, people want to know which ones actually produce more effective leaders. Fortunately for us, Kouzes and Posner have answered that question about The Leadership Challenge model, with over two decades of ongoing research and validation processes. There is now a significant body of work, by Jim and Barry as well as others, which convincingly establishes the value of The Five Practices in helping people develop their leadership abilities.
During our work at ILA with this development methodology, we have continued to gather data about leader effectiveness, too, and the results of one research effort have proven to be particularly fascinating. (Although I can't claim that our study involves the academic rigor to be considered Tier One research, in its own way it does lend credence to the findings of others.)
Jim and Barry's original work was based on the Personal Leadership Best case methodology, where they identified the most common leadership behaviors found among leaders performing at their individual best. Our independent research, on the other hand, focused more on followers, rather than the leaders themselves. We asked people at all levels and from all kinds of organizations to describe times in their careers or lives when they were truly led, not simply managed.
Perhaps you have been led–really led–at some time in your life. Maybe it was in business, high school sports, or in a personal situation. If so, what responses come to your mind for you?
The responses we received through our research were both very interesting and consistent. For example, we noted how people almost always tended to respond based on how they felt, indicating "I felt connected to my team members," rather than "there was a great deal of collaboration." This should remind us all that the often cited quote, "people may not remember what you say or do, but they do remember how you make them feel," is certainly alive and well in our relationship with people who are leading us.
Overall, some of the most common responses included feeling:
Other responses–most of which could easily be included in the above Top 5 list–included descriptions of feeling deeply supported, part of a collaborative team, connected, engaged, released, and trusted.
Funny thing about these findings: no one ever mentioned feeling strategically agile or filled to the brim with business acumen. They shied away from characteristics often associated with typical leadership competencies. And we never heard words such as confused, discounted, micromanaged, or alone.
And one other very important observation: our respondents were adamant in expressing that while being led, they performed at much higher levels, sometimes doing the best work of their lives. They could usually explain how and why in vivid detail. And when they talked about subsequently moving into a situation when the leadership was not as vibrant, they would get a bit of a saddened look on their faces as they admitted becoming less committed and engaged.
You probably are not surprised by these responses, as you likely resonate with many, if not all, of them.
These findings re-confirm that when people are led, they have an emotional connection with the leader. We never specifically asked our survey participants how being led felt different, yet that is the way the vast majority responded. There is much truth in the adage that we choose to follow leaders based on how they make us feel.
The findings of our research at ILA have also pointed out more clearly why The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® has become such a useful and effective approach. When people described what they associated most with being led, they gave us almost perfect definitions of these practices. At the same time, they did not come close to describing any other contemporary leadership models, which significantly differ from The Five Practices.
Kouzes and Posner found that leaders at their best Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. Our ILA research found that when people are being truly led they most frequently feel highly inspired, committed, challenged, enabled, and encouraged. This is a remarkable set of similarities, isn't it?
It also is important to remember the relationship between our survey participants' responses about being led and actual results. The leader's consistent and deliberate actions (the Model the Way component), helped them and their teams accomplish much more than when they were merely being managed.
We know that effective leadership contributes to higher performance and better results. Our study indicates that when people are being led, they most frequently relate to the value and impact of The Five Practices in action. This is just one more reason why people and organizations around the world have directly benefited from this unique and proven approach to leadership development.
Steve Coats, a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Certified Master, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers around the world in leadership development, team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. Steve can be reached at email@example.com
This probably doesn't come as any surprise to you, but here's the rub. Organizations these days seem to want us to develop leaders in shorter and shorter periods of time. It's all part of the trend of instant success. Well, guess what? It isn't going to happen. There's no such thing as instant leadership—or instant expertise of any kind. There's no fast track to excellence. Those who are the very best at anything got to be that way because they spent more time learning and practicing, not less time learning.
According to the experts on expertise—people like researcher K. Anders Ericsson, Conradi Eminent Scholar at Florida State University—what truly differentiates the expert performers from the good performers is hours of practice. You've got to work at becoming the best, and it sure doesn't happen over a weekend. If you want a rough metric of what it'll take to achieve the highest level of expertise, the estimate is about 10,000 hours of practice over a period of ten years. That's about 2.7 hours a day, every day for ten years. So the next time someone says the organization ought to cut leadership development back to a couple days a year, show them that number and then ask them whether they would rather have professionals or amateurs running the business.
The Leadership Challenge® Workshop is intended to be, in essence, a multi-day practice opportunity. People spend sixteen hours engaged in an intensive, designed learning experience that accesses all styles. There are opportunities to read about and hear presentations on key concepts, chances to actively experiment with the practices, occasions to observe role models, times to reflect on experiences and observations, and places for dialogue with peers. It's this combination of approaches that makes this workshop unique.
But attending a workshop is obviously not all there is to learning to lead. In fact, if learning stops at the classroom door, then we can guarantee that there will be little change in behavior back home. Remember, it takes 2.7 hours of practices per day to become the best, not just those hours in the workshop. There is a process built into The Leadership Challenge® Workshop for continuing the learning back on the job, but it's only a beginning. Leadership development is an ongoing process that must continue if you are to become the best leader you can be. The real change begins when we turn our workplaces into practice fields for leadership.
Excerpted from The Leadership Challenge Workshop Facilitator's Guide, 4th Edition, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner.
I started working with Jim and Barry in the 1980s as the challenge course instructor, supporting an early version of a workshop then called VIP (Vision, Involvement, Persistence). The clients in those days were almost always mid-level managers from Silicon Valley companies. And this was California at a time of promise and invention, when we were on the ascendant curve of technology and the possibilities seemed endless. We knew then that the need for developing leaders in business was real, but it seemed like a "nice to have" idea. I would have to say that the times were a lot more innocent overall.
Back in the early days of the workshop at Pajaro Dunes, I had the honor of escorting participants outdoors to engage in ropes-course activities designed to help them practice the meaning of the model. With the perspective of the intervening years, I can see now that this is still our privilege: to enable developing leaders to use the Five Practices model as a basis for the practice of leadership in their world and, as facilitators, to continue to model that behavior for others every day.
—Seton Hall Helped Angie Chaplin '05 Transform her Life. Now She's Passing the Favor On.
When the Cedar River's banks overflowed this June, devastating Angie Chaplin's Waverly, Iowa, community with a "500-year" flood, she drew upon one of the most critical lessons of her life: how to lead others.
It was a lesson she'd learned at Seton Hall, through SetonWorldWide's online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership (MASCL) program. It's a lesson she now shares with others, as a nonprofit leadership instructor in Iowa and as a MASCL faculty member.
After the flood struck, Chaplin sprang into action with her husband, Casey, and their sons, 8-year-old Jacob and 6-year-old Jeremy — cleaning out homes and serving meals to volunteers, while hundreds of residents felt the disaster's impact.
Coping with their losses in the wake of the receding river, many residents placed blame on city officials. "Hearing community members speak out during a public meeting made me think there are lessons to be learned, even in disaster," Chaplin recalls. "There had to be a way to help the city extract those lessons."
Chaplin contacted the city administrator and offered to lead a debriefing. Once she received the go-ahead, she sought expertise from SetonWorldWide's MASCL network. Col. Rob Cerjan, M.A. '06 offered to work with Chaplin on the project, utilizing a debriefing format used in the Army.
Together, Cerjan and Chaplin facilitated a review of Waverly's emergency operations center and produced a report that focused on crisis communication. "This experience is a proud accomplishment, and the credit goes to MASCL for the connections made and lessons taught," Chaplin says. "When I started the program, I never imagined it would make such an impact in my community."
Chaplin's journey began when she enrolled in SetonWorldWide's MASCL program and was introduced to The Leadership Challenge, a book and leadership development program written by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. "They had me from page one," she laughs.
Drawn to the practice of "Model the Way," which encourages leaders to find their own voice, Chaplin made a discovery. "An ‘a-ha moment' came when I realized I was suppressing my voice," she explains.
At that time, Chaplin lacked confidence, a situation that stemmed from a personal health crisis — morbid obesity. Encouraged by her fellow Seton Hall students and teachers, she examined her life. "My physical, emotional and psychological health were deteriorating, and I realized I had allowed my weight to inhibit my ability to lead," she says.
Four months after she started Seton Hall's program, Chaplin underwent gastric-bypass surgery.
By graduation, she had shed more than 100 pounds, but the transformation was more than physical. "The surgery was a step toward a healthier life, not a solution," Chaplin says.
Once she committed to living well, Chaplin used her new, confident approach to cross the finish lines of four national marathons, two of them as a charity athlete with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training.
Chaplin also found that she could empower others to release their own leadership voices. Employed by Lutheran Services in Iowa, a nonprofit human-services organization, she helped inspire its entrepreneurial Center for Learning and Leading. There, she designs and facilitates strategies for nonprofit and academic leaders around the country that generate revenue to support LSI's mission.
Karl Soehnlein, Ph.D., program director for the online MASCL program, jokes that Chaplin is the program's "poster girl." But behind his kidding lies deep respect. "When I met Angie, I knew there was something special about her," he says. "I just sensed it — her positiveness, her excitement, her passion." So when it came time to bring in a new faculty member, he looked no further than his former student.
As a professor, Chaplin presents leadership lessons during the program's weekend orientation residency and teaches the very module that changed her life.
"I lead because I've been led to find my leadership voice," she says. "It's humbling to teach in a program that continues to teach me. I learn as much from students and fellow faculty as they hopefully learn from me."
Chaplin sings the praises of the program on a nearly daily basis, and her endorsement is genuine. "It sounds like a late-night infomercial," Chaplin says. "But it's difficult for me to even imagine my life without MASCL — it fuels a passion for learning, leading and life.
"Leaders can't do everything, but we can do something," she adds. "Whether it's running, teaching, leading or serving, we have an obligation to do what we can, where we can, when we can. It's as simple as that."
Shannon Rossman Allen is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas. This article originally appeared in Seton Hall Magazine and is reprinted here with permission from Seton Hall University. Seton Hall Magazine can be contacted via e-mail: SHUwriter@shu.edu.
For the management team, changing an organization can be a matter of choice or a business imperative for survival. Whatever the reason, the only way that change will stick is when it is embraced by others throughout the organization.
While management's role is to plan and implement a new structure, it takes leadership to guide people through the transition. And how that transition happens is fundamental to the success of the change process.
An involved leader can show people how their interests — their dreams — can be realized, and invite them to participate in navigating the path of dream fulfillment into the future. The Five Practices identified in The Leadership Challenge provides a great template to ensure the success of organizational change.
First, ask yourself why someone would follow you, as a leader. In order to follow, we must trust that the future you are framing is where we want to go. It is a matter of credibility — credibility that is rooted in what you stand for and demonstrated by what you have already accomplished. The competence and values that you have shown in past interactions with people, and the relationships you have built, are the fundamentals of trust. If you have established a solid foundation, your conviction and enthusiasm for a new vision will be enough to influence people to listen to your message.
You must answer questions about the need for change. If people are clear about why change is necessary — not only for the organization but what it means to them, personally — it is easier to embrace the new path and release the hold on the old ways of doing things. A compelling picture of what the future can be, along with an invitation to participate fully in the process, will result in a shared mental image.
Listening also is an essential element to make change happen. People need to know that they are part of the solution and feel they have some control over the outcome. It may be in hearing comments about why others are resisting change that a new approach — one that will be embraced by everyone involved — can be found. As a leader, your vision of the future is important and it is essential that you invite others to help figure out what needs to be done to move toward that vision.
Respecting the past while embracing the future also plays a critical role. We generally want to do a good job and feel that what we have been doing has been effective. However, change takes us out of our comfort zone. When we are faced with something new, we can feel incompetent and want to seek shelter in old and familiar ways. Some people may even try to sabotage a new initiative, which is why a change in the organization should respect the past and embrace the future. Engaging people in opportunities that build on their strengths and interests will result in more people feeling confident and knowing how to move things forward. By giving people a chance to explore new ways of doing things, experimenting and taking risks, you encourage creativity and innovation.
Trusted leaders take people where they haven't been before. Change is a process that can be exhilarating for some and very threatening for others. But helping people see that the future is more compelling than the current situation can make it easier for everyone involved. By setting goals that move the organization in the right direction, you not only move the organization forward but build individual confidence as well.
And finally, celebrating milestones of success allows people to see progress and affirm to them that their efforts are making a difference. A celebration acknowledges and energizes people while also anchoring the changes that have been made.
Organizations need to be flexible in order to respond to economic changes, global competition, and unexpected pressures. Creating the future by involving people in the change process sets the stage for a culture that is innovative, by attracting and retaining the most capable and engaged talent.
Maureen O'Leary Pickard is founder of The Performance Group, co-founder of The Leadership Journey, and a consultant with expertise in change management, executive coaching, and organization alignment. A Certified Human Resource Specialist (CHRP) and a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learning about leadership is not the same as learning to be a leader. This "blinding flash of the obvious" comes after being a leadership scholar for more than 30 years and serving as a leader for much of that time. Too much of what I see in business education is teaching about leadership: leadership theories and concepts or social psychological concepts applied to leadership. What we should be teaching our students is how to be leaders.
Learning to be a leader doesn't happen enough. Don't get me wrong. Students do learn what is required to be a leader. But students—along with executives, public servants, clergy, physicians, etc.—can't be leaders by restricting their learning of leadership to the classroom. Just as medical students can't become surgeons by only operating on cadavers or elected officials can't make budget decisions without prioritizing among competing 'goods', our students can't learn to be leaders until they experience leading themselves.
Of course, that's the rub, and also the source of the familiar refrain, "I can teach about leadership, but only the student can learn it." Therefore, the reason we need to be doing things differently in our leadership curriculum is that leadership development is fundamentally the development of the inner self. Being a leader requires leading from within more than leading from outside.
Organizations can only pay people to manage; there are no intrinsic reasons for leading. In fact, it's hard to imagine people getting up day-after-day and putting in the countless hours required to get extraordinary things accomplished, unless they have their hearts in it.
Leadership is hard work. It is about going beyond a job description-like caring. From a missed meal or night of sleep, leadership also requires sacrifice if you want to make a difference. Does anyone tell their graduates that they can expect to get ahead in their careers or lives by working regular 9-to-5 hours?
In every leadership seminar I teach—whether undergraduate or graduate students, or practitioners—would-be leaders are required to go out and lead, and then come back and reflect on that experience in order to learn how to be a better leader. Of course, I offer ideas, concepts, techniques, and strategies in an effort to make the seminar assignment successful. But what participants don't always realize at the start is that (a) I really don't have anything to teach them that they don't already know, and (b) that becoming a better leader only happens in the 'doing' of leadership. The 'grade' on such an assignment is not a measure of their work output but comes from their reflections on what they learned from the experience (irrespective of the outcome), and what they would do differently given another opportunity.
My co-author, Jim Kouzes, and I talk about leadership practices because we know that it is only through disciplined practice that one can gain mastery. In this regard, talent is over-rated. Organizations will prosper more by gaining a 1 percent improvement in 100 people than they will by getting the most talented individual to do 100 percent better.
Another outcome of asking students and practitioners to 'do' leadership in order to learn to be better leaders is the value of their remarkable accomplishments-most of which would not have happened if these same individuals were not required to do something different. This leads to still another keen insight into leadership: there is no shortage of opportunities to lead and make a difference. (There's wisdom in the old adage, "Where there is a will, there is a way.")
It never fails to anger and frustrate me when asked, "Are leaders born or made?" Leadership is a skill. And while this set of abilities is normally distributed in a population just as any other talent is, it can be made (learned) in the same fashion as any other ability. But no amount of practicing and coaching can make up for the lack of desire, motivation, drive, or passion on the part of the individual to do better than they are currently doing. Which brings us full circle, where leadership begins inside of us as we try to figure out such questions as who am I, why do I do what I do, what's important to me, and the like.
The same challenge is equally applicable to higher education administration. We don't ask department chairs to be leaders, so the outcome is the same as teaching about leadership without doing it and reflecting on what was done as a leader.
We politely call them department chairs (perish the thought that we would be putting them on some pedestal), but they are more like bureaucrats (from a public administration perspective) or managers (using business jargon) than leaders. Where do we use the term "department leaders?" Isn't it true that few of our faculty want to become department chairs (let alone Deans!) or volunteer to "chair" their departments? Indeed, in a great Catch-22, we're mostly suspicious of anyone that would volunteer to be a department chair, wondering what "power trip" they might be on or what vendetta they want to pursue.
As leaders on our campuses we have often decried the "cosmopolitan" norms of the faculty who have been educated to be more concerned with and attuned to professional standards than to "local" or institutional considerations. Let's appreciate that there doesn't have to be a contest between these two orientations. The good work of the faculty in academic and professional communities serves the needs of our students for current and validated information. And the questions, issues, hypotheses and applications that students raise serves to heighten the richness and depth of faculty understanding and knowledge. After all, as often pointed out, if you really want to know a subject, try teaching it to others.
Figuring out what is important inside applies to the faculty, just as much as it does to our students. The plain truth is that most organizations conspire to make department chairs and others in hierarchical positions into managers. And they do this conspiratorially by keeping everyone so busy-barely managing to complete all the tasks already on their plates-that they don't have any time to lead. Putting out fires and dealing with matters that have happened in the past, managers are confined to responding to whatever is happening right now in front of them.
In this way, they deal more with "what" should I be doing than "why" should I be doing (anything). The future is the time domain of leaders: "What should I be doing today that will get us to where we want to be in the future?" is the leadership question.
Language also influences our thinking and behavior. At Santa Clara, we scrapped our traditional undergraduate and graduate policy committees in favor of leadership teams-as in the "Undergraduate LEADERSHIP Team." The same faculty members are still involved, but are now responsible for setting an annual agenda around what will make our program better, rather than simply making decisions around new courses, reviewing prerequisites, admissions standards, etc. (which, by the way, they still do). Just this shift in language has altered their perspective: from holding onto the status quo (managing) to figuring out what needs to be changed (leading). We're working hard to reduce the administrivia connected with department chairs' responsibilities so that they only have two leadership tasks: curriculum innovation and faculty development.
I'm often pointing out, with all due humility, that it is so much easier to write about leadership than it is to do leadership. But in this doing, in the being of leading, I am confident that I have become a more astute scholar about leadership and more insightful about how to liberate the leader within everyone.
Barry Z. Posner is Dean of the Leavey School of Business and Professor of Leadership at Santa Clara University where he has received numerous teaching and innovation awards. He is co-author of The Leadership Challenge.
Growth is a difficult challenge. It is not easy. And it typically never occurs as a single event. Rather, it is a process that happens over time. Although growth can be fast-and sometimes mandated-it is ultimately rooted in the power of choice. It may be an elective but the alternative is maintaining the status quo, or even shrinking.
So how do we grow—in influence, in effectiveness, in skills? There is a clear and concise growth strategy outlined for us in The Leadership Challenge. Let's step through model to see its application in our everyday lives.
Step One: Establish some prioritized beliefs or values to understand our own commitment to development. The leadership practice of Model the Way provides the guidance we need to establish this list. With a little self-examination, we can pick the values we want to live by, and these values can serve to direct our motivation and define our calls to action.
Step Two: Identify and describe the future state we are trying to create. The leadership practice of Inspire a Shared Vision is designed to create this picture for us and to engage our constituents in the growth process. Any great growth strategy is best accomplished by enlisting some support from those around us, and these people want to know where we are trying to go and why. Supported with tools like metaphors, similes, word pictures, repetition, and intonation, we can create a compelling image in the eyes and minds of our constituents.
Step Three: Make a change of some kind. This leadership practice of Challenge the Process provides us with the ideas and suggestions to try something new. Experiment and learn from the experience. Whether it works or it doesn't, we can apply the learning and improve over time.
Step Four: Implement the leadership practice of Enable Others to Act. Here we are able to develop more cooperative relationships with those around us, building trust and trusting intentions while also creating more effective communications among our constituents. Growth is difficult but the more we engage and enlist those around us-with information and resources-our own actions and theirs will be enhanced.
Step Five: The very important and often overlooked leadership practice of Encourage the Heart. This is both the recognition and celebration of the small and large accomplishments we achieve along the developmental growth path. Increasing our awareness of what warrants recognition, and then making the praise or reward visible to others and to ourselves, bolsters our resilience during the growth process. Encouraging our own hearts for taking the steps needed for growth will foster our ongoing commitment to grow.
In a world that is continually changing and evolving, our best option is to choose to grow-or risk being left behind as the world changes around us. Following the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® as outlined in The Leadership Challenge is our practical roadmap to growth.
Are you ready? Are you ready to choose to GROW?
Craig Haptonstall is President and CEO of Leadership Mechanics LLC. With a corporate career that has included Southwest Airlines and The Tom Peters Company, he also is a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge Workshop® and can be reached at email@example.com.
Bill Daniels, the billionaire "father of the cable TV industry" once said, "Leadership isn't something you leave on your desk at night - it's something you do in all aspects of your life."
Janice, an international bank vice-president and a coaching client of mine, truly exemplified Bill Daniels' thought. Our coaching work initially centered on her role as a leader in her organization and specifically on her LPI feedback. But it became clear rather quickly that the most important, immediate application of our exploration of The Five Practices® was in her personal life with her husband and two young children.
In seeking a better work/life balance, Janice could see that there were problems brewing in her family that, if left unattended, could lead to serious negative consequences for her and her loved ones. She also realized that if these family matters weren't handled they would end up weighing her down and reducing her effectiveness as a leader on the job. She suddenly made the connection that the leadership practices which before she had only thought applied to her work life, in fact applied directly to her family situation.
As she reflected on her family she became aware that they never talked about their values and what was important in how they treated each other (Model the Way). Similarly, they had no vision as a family - no common aspirations to look forward to (Inspire a Shared Vision). Janice knew that if her family was to make needed changes they would have to take a hard look at some long-standing behavior patterns (Challenge the Process). She also observed that she was part of the problem. She mistakenly tried to "do it all" and thus was holding her children back from assuming more responsibility as they grew up (Enable Others to Act). And, while feeling very loving and caring toward her family, she realized that her "busyness" had caused her to begin to take for granted the things that her husband and kids did well. She was forgetting to give the small "thank you's" and hugs that are vital in loving relationships (Encourage the Heart).
Janice understood that The Five Practices couldn't be applied at home the exact way she could apply them at work. She effectively translated them into her personal life and, over a six-month period, was able to make dramatic changes that brought her family together in new ways. She also gained insights and energy that made her a more effective leader on the job. She commented, "I used to think of leadership as something I did at work. Now I realize that it's about life. I'm a leader in all of my life."
I recently had the privilege of conducting The Leadership Challenge® Workshop for SAS Mexico. SAS Mexico is a subsidiary of the parent company based in the United States and, as such, is a fully independent group. The president of the group, Jose Luis Sanchez, is a past client and had requested the Workshop for his management staff as well as other key positions. Most of the participants hold customer-facing positions within the company and some work on cross-functional teams focused on selling software solutions.
Sanchez had chosen leadership development to serve as a foundational piece of their business plan. He strongly believed that each and every member of his team had something valuable to contribute to the success of the company, and he wanted that "something special" surfaced and put to work. Using The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, we anticipated that each member of the class would be able to explore and then articulate the things they could do to lead from their position. Neither of us anticipated that the Workshop would cause a big shift in their thinking. We were wrong. The Five Practices model enabled learning at a much broader and deeper level than was expected by all parties connected with the class: the participants, the president, and me.
I arrived a day early to set up class and prepare. Mr. Sanchez and I met so we could go over his opening remarks as well as his thoughts about the dynamics of the group-who would sit with who, who would talk the most, who I might need to draw out, etc. At the end of the first day of the Workshop he told me that he was hearing lots of feedback...and all of it was enthusiastic. He had anticipated that there would be push back from several in the group; this was the first assumption that didn't hold true. Assumption number two was that the ones he anticipated would be withdrawn were not. Assumption number three was that they would be prone to working in specific groups. As is often the case, when we mixed them up, they continued to be equally engaged.
During the debrief at the end of the class, I mentioned these assumptions to the group and asked for their thoughts. They told me that the class had allowed them hear the original thoughts and ideas of people whom with they normally only experienced one type of role-centered conversation. During the class they gained the insight that each member of this team had unique values, a vision for how things could be, and ideas about the challenges they might face. They said that sharing these things enabled them to see each other in a new light which was sparking lots of ideas and making them feel more like a team. I asked, "Have you not felt like a team before?" There was a pause then one woman raised her hand. "You need to understand that in our culture we have been raised to defer to leaders and authority. Since we were children we have been told to hold our tongues when a leader speaks, to be good followers. The Five Practices model has shown us that we can be good followers and good leaders at the same time, and that it is our responsibility to do so." This shift enabled them to commit to President Sanchez's request to "develop yourselves as leaders to help us continue to develop as a company."
Sharing The Five Practices model in that Mexico City class provided a rich learning experience for all of us. The participants gained a fundamental understanding of the expectations and confidence their leader had for them. They felt enabled by that and by the discovery of new dimensions of their co-workers, representing additional resources available to them. The president learned that his vision of having his team be a strong group of leaders was sound. The Five Practices model aligned well with his favorite sports metaphor: "When you are on a team, you need to be ready to step up when someone passes you the ball." I discovered that the true power of The Five Practices model is in helping individuals and teams, in any culture, reveal the capacity they have as leaders. How it happens may differ from culture to culture, but the possibilities are there to be discovered.
When you're stuck in shifting beach sand up past your ankles, unable to tear your gaze from the tsunami about to slam into the shore, the last thing that would be on your mind is, "Now would be a good time to be inspired by a shared vision".
Instead, you either freeze in place waiting for the inevitable, or you frantically try to extricate yourself, to run in the opposite direction. While neither one is very practical, both are very understandable behaviors, given the situation. However, this scenario is an environmental disaster of a different nature: our 4,000 person company is about to be acquired by a software behemoth almost 20 times our size.
Regardless of whether or not you've ever been "the acquired", imagine yourself facing that tsunami in other areas of your life, and you can relate to the chaos, confusion, uncertainty and fear that follows an event of such magnitude. In addition to an acquisition, such feelings can occur with a job change, a move, death, divorce, or serious illness. And, as much as we yearn for a leader to rescue us-Indiana Jones style-we so often feel alone, helpless, and ineffective.
With little information coming from our new overlords, and not much to do but wait and see, some employees can become paralyzed: "Who will tell me what to work on?" Others become hyperactive, racing to close another deal, finish the marketing plan, get that product release out the door. And still others will leave, preferring to strike out on their own. In such situations, survival skills (e.g., defend territory, look busy) often trump strategy as people begin to shut down, pull back, and play it safe.
Why plan anything when the future is so unknown?
There are two key reasons: Personal. Leadership.
As in: Why not equip our high potential employees with important leadership practices to bring with them into their next role? Why not use this time to help our best talent take a step back, and:
Based on a successful Leadership Challenge® Workshop pilot we had held the previous fall, I contacted Steve Houchin of International Leadership Associates to discuss next steps. After initial hellos, and an update on the looming acquisition, his first comment was, "I suppose all training has been cancelled." "Why no," I replied. "I want to complete two workshops before we wind down the company." Silence for a heartbeat on the phone. "Really," he said. It wasn't a question; it was a statement. We got to work, planning two workshops over the following two months.
In the midst of the chaos and distractions dealing with various crises and issues related to the acquisition, about a dozen people committed the time and energy to focus on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. Although the sessions drew fewer of our high potential employees than Steve and I would have liked, everyone understood that this was an opportunity to focus on developing a personal vision. They stepped up, and stepped into their developing leadership capabilities.
In both sessions, we acknowledged up front how difficult it would be to "Inspire a Shared Vision" about work, when no one knew their role, team goals, or even what team they would be on within two months. Yet, they all "nailed" their personal vision statements. One participant wrote: "I have a dream that I can live with passion, inspiring creativity, productivity and joy in myself and others." What employer wouldn't jump at the chance to hire someone with talent and passion like that?
There are several key lessons to be learned from this experience. While Indiana Jones is an amazing character, he is only fictional, not the real thing. Waiting for a hero like him to bail us out may mean waiting forever-and unnecessarily. When people realize that the leader they are waiting for is within them, they become their own amazing hero. They can stand and face whatever life throws at them, confident in the knowledge of who they are as people and as leaders. From there, it seems a short step to inspiring a shared vision of what's possible, at work and in life.
As I write this article, today is the last day our company exists as is. On Monday, those who stayed become employees of the new company, and I'm inspired just knowing that several of our very best people will be taking on new roles and leading new teams, having delved into The Five Leadership Practices®. I'm especially proud of each of them for taking the time to create their personal vision, as a cornerstone of those practices.
Christine Barnes works in Leadership and Development at a global level.
Based on over twenty years of survey research, Kouzes and Posner have shown that there are four characteristics which people most consistently look for in the leaders they admire: honesty, competence, inspiring, and forward-looking.
Over the years I have shared these findings with thousands of aspiring leaders. And there is seldom, if ever, dissenting points of view about this ranking. Many may try to make the case that one of their personal favorites should be high on the list—be it supportive, fair-minded, or whatever. But, in the end, they recognize and concur that these four attributes are the most important characteristics of leadership.
On many occasions, I also have taken these findings a step further. In a completely unscientific fashion, I have asked people to rate themselves on how they believe they are doing in each of these four areas. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10, I ask participants to respond to questions such as, "How honest are you?," How competent?," and so forth.
How do you think people responded? Which do you think they typically rated the highest or lowest? Is there a wide spread between the two? What would your response look like?
The results I've seen form a fairly predictable pattern. The business people I predominately have worked with tend to rate themselves very high in honesty and competence, and much lower in forward-looking and inspiring (generally in that order). When asked directly, very few view themselves as inspiring and, in fact, many readily ante up evidence about how "uninspiring" they are. For some reason, they do not seem to be too concerned. It is as if being considered inspiring would be nice, but it is not anything to lose sleep over. They even argue that not everyone is destined to be a John Kennedy or a Martin Luther King.
I might add that they do not seem so cavalier about honesty and competence. And even though many do not rate themselves very high in forward-looking, they seem to accept that it is, indeed, essential for leaders. For some reason, however, inspiring is usually not viewed in the same light. Could these leaders be attempting to minimize a weakness they don't believe they can strengthen? Or is their perspective actually correct?
Remember that nearly 70% of all respondents to the Characteristics of Admired Leaders survey have indicated that inspiring is an attribute they most admire in a leader. Ironically, most of these self-admitted, non-inspiring businesspeople selected it as well.
So is Inspiring, as a key characteristic of leadership, really important? The answer may come from looking no further than Senator Barack Obama. Here is an individual who in mid-2007 (just 18 months before the Presidential election), was given little to no chance of being elected President of the United States, especially given the prominent position of his opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton. Nine months later, he was the front-runner. And if there has been one word used most frequently to explain his unexpected and perhaps miraculous rise, that word would be inspiring. In many people's eyes Barack Obama is inspiring - and that attribute, above the rest, is differentiating him from the pack and helping him in his run for the White House.
Through March 2008, Senator Clinton's attempts to sway voters in her direction by focusing on the issue of competence have yet to be proven successful. So, is competence important for leaders? You bet. But at least in the 2008 Democratic primary contest, so is inspiring.
No leader of a company or a country can be a one-trick pony. If Senator Obama is perceived to lack honesty, competence, and vision, his inspiring presence will not be nearly enough for him to win. But it will likely be "the difference" if the other attributes are not in question.
As we watch with interest how this all unfolds, there are a few key lessons to be learned. The first is that it is clear that a leader cannot discount the importance of being perceived as inspiring. People want to be inspired and energized about the future, and know that their leaders really care. These are the leaders they will more readily choose to follow. This means that those considered inspiring will have a leg up as leaders over those who are not. So do not overlook or minimize the importance of this attribute, just because it is not one of your strong suits. You will grow in your effectiveness as you work to make it a strength.
The other lesson is also very important and could be the subject of another article. Being inspiring is much more than simply being a gifted speaker. Having a golden tongue certainly is an asset, especially if you are running for public office. But it is not the only criteria for being inspiring. Funny thing, when you ask people to think about great speakers, they are quick to point out some well known names (including Kennedy and King). One name that never makes this list is Mother Theresa yet she is almost always at the top of the list of the most inspiring people. (And I am sure you can cite a number of other examples as well.) Perhaps we should give some thought as to why.
If being genuinely inspiring is not simply great oratory skills, then what else is it?
Examining this leadership characteristic from that perspective will reveal a variety of new options, beyond public speaking, which you can pursue in becoming more inspiring yourself. And that will serve you well on your leadership journey.
One of the leading authorities on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, Steve Coats has been involved with The Leadership Challenge for over 20 years. A managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Isn't it amazing the way important themes emerge in different places, simultaneously? In late March, twenty of us were sitting at tables in the St. Louis Hyatt Regency talking about how to get out of the box, just about the same time that authorities in New York were deliberating whether to exhume the body of the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini.
Harry Houdini still makes headlines 80 years after his death because he appeared to be able to defy the limits that frustrate ordinary human beings. He did what the rest of us want to do but usually can't figure out how to do—to free ourselves from constraints (the exhumation notwithstanding, of course). Few have come close to matching what Houdini seemed to have been able to accomplish.
Back over at the Hyatt, our discussion followed this same theme, but with a significant departure. We had gathered to talk with Jim Kouzes, an author and lecturer on the topic of leadership development. Leaders are the people who help us get out of the limiting confines of our present situations and move purposefully toward a vision of a brighter future. But the ability to do so is not the private reserve of a select few superhuman men and women, Kouzes said. In fact, leadership requires a set of skills and abilities that can be mastered by almost anyone—given proper training and the opportunity and discipline to practice, practice, practice.
There went one illusion.
Here's another one that Kouzes and his co-author Barry Posner dispel in their 2006 publication A Leader's Legacy. "The future doesn't just belong to the leaders. It's not just the leader's vision that leaders are accountable for enacting. Leadership isn't about selling your vision; it's about articulating the people's vision."
"OK then," said one of the senior HR leaders in attendance. "But what do we do when we invite our people to participate in planning for the future of our organization, but they keep coming up with the same old ideas? It's like they are stuck in the box; how can we help them get out?"
Kouzes' response may be a little surprising-becoming forward-focused doesn't necessarily result from sitting through leadership development courses or visioning sessions, as we traditionally think of them. Our employees need a steady, sustained diet of things to read and opportunities to talk that expose them to different ideas and vantage points that stretch them and gently push them out of their comfort zones. A broadened view of the present leads to an expanded sense of the future.
In A Leader's Legacy, he puts it this way. "As counterintuitive as it might seem, the best place to start creating the future is by being more mindful in the present. Our failure at being forward-looking may result more from our mindlessness in the present than from any other factor. We operate on automatic pilot, not really noticing what's going on around us, believing we know everything we need to know, viewing the world from established categories, and operating from a single point of view."
This last bit about established categories and a single point of view really hit home with me, in part because of an experience I had immediately before the gathering at the Hyatt. Thanks to my uncanny knack for getting lost, I had gone to the wrong end of the hotel when I arrived, and I wandered the whole length of a concourse packed with corporate training sessions before confirming that I was in the wrong place. I'm not one to be deterred by an occasional blind alley, but by the time I made it out, my shoulders were scrunched inward and my gaze was fixed firmly on the floor. It weighs you down to try to decipher row after row of signs written in acronyms of bold capital letters, with hyphens and decimal points in unfamiliar places. Such is the language of people who talk only among themselves, labels on the boxes we put ourselves in. If you've ever been in a situation where everyone around you was speaking jargon that you didn't understand, you can probably relate to my incredible shrinking feeling.
This is one of the things we're working on through WorkforceStLouis2.0. We strive to bring business leaders together to find common language with which to articulate and communicate a shared vision of a bright future for St. Louis - a metro region competing in a global talent marketplace in which agility, flexibility, critical thinking, team-work, and leadership are essential tools for getting ahead. If Jim Kouzes is right, then the key to anticipating this future lies in a closer examination of where we are right now. It would be amazing if, like Houdini, we have everything we need already in our grasp-we just need to look extremely carefully to see it.
Blair Forlaw is the Director of WorkforceStLouis2.0, a program administered by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). WorkforceStLouis2.0 supports business leadership to strengthen the regional human capital value chain by encouraging strategic investments in employee learning and development, enhancing the dynamic exchange of information, experience, and best practices, and building skills and competencies at all occupational levels in companies of every size and sector throughout the St. Louis metro economy. For more information, contact Blair at 314-623-6550 or email@example.com.
As an advocate of personal growth, traveling is a great passion of mine. Traveling inevitably presents the possibility for opportunities and adventure. There is usually something unexpected, unforeseen, and unplanned that happens along the way, creating the chance to spread one's wings. But it is also possible to experience fears that can inhibit growth during a trip to a foreign, unfamiliar place. Let's face it, the fears of being wrong, losing, rejection, and the unknown often test the limit of personal growth. Being in a strange land, with a different language, culture, and society is scary.
So why is it that we willingly place ourselves in such an uncomfortable situation? I recently went to Egypt because of the magnetic pull of a clear and compelling vision—a vision of riding around the pyramids at Giza on top of a willing camel. My exciting vision was of course created without the knowledge or experience of actual camel-riding. Their long legs create a rocking gate as they walk, and this motion resembles that of a small boat bouncing in choppy water. (I was gently reminded of my 2-hour ride for the next seven days.)
As I was being led away from the busy streets of Cairo on top of this strange animal, there were many thoughts passing into my mind—What if I was really being led away to be mugged? What if I was to be held as a hostage? What if I would be left at the pyramids, with no way to get back to the hotel? Still, the vision of having this experience pulled me forth, and provided courage to not break and run for help, which is what my panicked inner voice suggested. My heart was pounding as the adrenaline flowed. Then I realized it was not pounding with fear, but with the sheer excitement of fulfilling my vision. The sky was incredibly blue, contrasted by the dull grey of the desert sand and I was riding a camel!
A clear vision is one of the first steps in overcoming our fears when you find yourself in an uncomfortable position. And this position is often where you experience the most growth. Let's go!
Craig Haptonstall is President and CEO of Leadership Mechanics LLC, a Leadership Challenge® affilitate. His travels will next take him to Buenos Aires and Zurich.
In my sessions with managers and leaders, I often ask attendees how much of their time they set aside during the previous week to think about and plan for their area of responsibility—three years out. After the nervous chuckles subside, it is clear that very few value long-term visioning over the demands for short-term results. Yet, in today's turbulent business world, vision or purpose is critical to driving the change necessary for excellence.
For instance, most of my clients identify innovation as a key strategy necessary for them to excel in their business. At the same time they often admit that they fall short in creating real innovation, citing historic practices and structure as the key barriers. To become innovative, substantial change is required. And that's where Inspiring a Shared Vision-one of the essential Five Practices-applies.
A powerful and compelling vision, delivered in an inspiring manner, is necessary to thaw out an organization's entrenched practices and drive the necessary changes in systems, and even, the culture. A great vision provides the courage necessary to change. It engages the discretionary efforts of the team. And most importantly, once it becomes shared, a great vision provides the determination and discipline to actually implement change.
Facilitators provide a great service to workshop participants and the sponsoring organization by setting aside sufficient time for attendees to complete a written draft of their vision statement. It takes time to help participants move beyond the initial tendency to state their vision as a three-year business plan full of metrics and, instead, actually breathe enough life into their vision to create a compelling picture of the possibilities.
For many workshop attendees, functioning in business environments that place the highest priority on execution and operational excellence, the need for a statement of ennobling possibilities can be seen as a 'nice-to-do,' not a 'must-do.' What is missed here is the simple dynamic that people execute when they are passionate about building something together that makes a difference.
Although time is always at a premium in workshops, the feedback I have received continues to confirm that creating an inspiring vision is the most useful takeaway for participants.
Max DePree, past CEO of my client Herman Miller, Inc. said it well, "Management has a lot to do with answers. Leadership is a function of questions. And the first question for a leader always is: 'Who do we intend to be?' Not 'What are we going to do?' but 'Who do we intend to be?'" The leadership journey often begins with answering that question.
Michael Neiss is a 25-year veteran in corporate management, OD and HR, and leadership consulting. A Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I remember a colleague relating to me that Jim Kouzes reminded her that The Five Practices represented a pentathlon, not an individual event. A leader could not be his/her exemplary best by concentrating on any one or two given practice. From my vantage point here in the Midwest of the USA, with our rich heritage of rust belt enterprises, I see more comfort with some practices. And at times, I see a real struggle with the practice of inspiring a shared vision.
Let me be very clear about my biases here. Before my consulting career, I spent years in operations. I love metrics. I love operational excellence. Great execution still trumps great ideas in my lens. I want my leaders to have dirt under their fingernails. I want them to model the way by showing through their behavior a respect for hard work. I want them to challenge the process, sometimes knocking down barriers by brute force and determination. I want them to enable others by realizing we are all in this together and trusting others. I want them to encourage by recognizing hard work and excellent results. However, I am concerned that we may have taken our eyes off a most critical practice, inspiring a shared vision. Working hard, working fast, eliminating waste, improving operations are all important, but without clearly defining the purpose of our labors, or the meaning of the work, we may end up questioning our future rather than celebrating its arrival.
I spent years with the auto industry as a manager for General Motors, and as a consultant to Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, and Nissan Motors. I love the business and I love the people I have worked with. General Motors has done outstanding work in improving manufacturing efficiencies, controlling costs, and building a more competitive culture. Without their inherited legacy costs of pensions and retiree healthcare, they would be the low cost producer of vehicles. The problem seems to be that they have become more efficient building vehicles that customers do not want. Market share is tumbling. As consumers, we haven't been inspired to be part of the GM vision.
More importantly, when I ask my neighbors about where their company is headed, most respond, "I don't know, but I hope it is better". Napoleon said, "A leader is a dealer in hope." To my friends in the big three (or the former members of the big three), I would suggest there is wisdom in his words. Now, more than ever, is it the leader's job to engage the full potential of the workforce by communicating what possibility are they going after? Yes, continue to be vigilant to the competency of execution, but share your forward-looking views and most importantly, your passion for the possibilities of the future. Engage them in the pursuit of greatness, not the avoidance of failure.
I do have a client that gets this. They work hard at clarifying and inspiring a shared vision. Herman Miller understands that an organization works differently when they are "creating great places to work, live, learn, and heal" as opposed to becoming the low cost producer of office furniture. Yes, they work hard at operational excellence. It is stated, and practiced, as one of their criteria for each customer solution. But they are also very mindful of their history of design and innovation, and how to turn that into value for their customers. Herman Miller employees know that what they do is an important part of building great workplaces for others. A focus on metrics keeps them on the competitive road, but a well-espoused vision tells them where the road is heading and why it is a noble place to be. Herman Miller has a great legacy. The DePree family's concern for people and community, the Eame's, Nelson's, Rhode's design heritage, Dr. Frost's counsel on employee ownership, are just a few gems from their revered past. Herman Miller leaders recognize that the past is a foundation, and not an anchor. Leaders are challenged to further the legacy by focusing on new and more ennobling possibilities. The past is viewed as a gift not to be squandered. Look at it, admire it, tell its story, but do not be satisfied with it. To my friends in the big three, I recall the words of Dr. Edwards Deming when he spoke to us at a GM conference. "Past success is not predictor of future success".
I do not mean to criticize from the sidelines here. I do mean to share what years of work with The Leadership Challenge has taught me. Hard work without vision is a formula for getting to mediocrity faster. Hard work without hope destroys motivation. In the 80's, Toyota called GM the sleeping giant. There is no greater call to battle than a great, inspiring vision.
We can all learn from our past. I focused on the Midwest, but I believe the same lessons apply to the other giants across our great country—Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks, Nordstroms, to name a few. Talking about our noble future should become a habit. It is the fuel necessary to getting there.
Michael Neiss is President and Founder of Michael T. Neiss and Associates, a consulting practice in South Haven, Michigan providing customized leadership development seminars, executive coaching, and strategic consultation for executive teams. You can reach Mike directly at email@example.com or 269-637-7092.
Getting a team to change their old habits and begin moving in the same direction is a huge Leadership Challenge. The degree of difficulty became very clear to me after listening to a managing director of a software company. Responsible for international sales and marketing, she faced a big challenge: how to create the same success internationally that had been achieved in the domestic marketplace.
The secret to their domestic success had been the organization's unwavering stance for "Customer-Driven Innovation." And they didn't just give this lip service to this slogan; they lived it out daily. They followed their customers around, watched how they used their product, and from this they learned what worked and what didn't work. Experimentation and risk taking was always encouraged and more importantly everyone was asked to get on board with customer-driven innovation. "It was so deeply ingrained in our operations that it became a part of our very fabric," she explained. This innovation state of mind made this software company quite successful, even though they were small.
One key ingredient to embedding this level of service and attention was to require every person, regardless of their position to spend time on "customer contact activities." This meant helping employees to understand the customer's needs by involving them in listening to customer feedback after a product launch. In this organization, everyone felt connected to the product and to the organization. Everyone was on board!
Replicating this kind of magic globally was not going to be an easy task. Arriving at one of the international locations, the managing director didn't want to waste any time. She went to the office immediately after getting off the red eye flight, driven to make a difference. The local office faced crushing deadlines and long work hours, but the managing director was anxious to set aside business as usual so that she could meet everyone and begin addressing the challenge they all faced. She did the unthinkable. In the midst of this great challenge, she shut the company down for a day.
She spent that day doing two things: building relationships so that she could gain their trust and asking employees to start partnering with their customers. This approach was unheard of at that location. However, she knew that everyone from the engineers to the janitors had to get on board. As she put it, "so the engineers got out of their pajamas (they worked from home), the janitors hung up their mops, and the managers stopped managing for the day."
She asked her team to suspend judgment for one day and invited them to be open to the possibility that they could turn the company around and become profitable. She believed in their ability to make this happen, although it had not occurred as of yet. She explained that the only ingredient missing was the customer. People who were designing the product had never spoken with the customer. This team could use a little 'outsight' to move the project along.
There is nothing like a downturn in business to highlight potential weak spots in the level of competence within an organization. It is not that people suddenly wake up stupid one morning and business suddenly drops. What it usually indicates is that something is radically different in the marketplace, and people are ill-prepared to do much about it. So when companies are expecting times to be tough, they naturally cut back on expenses. And often those companies cutting back are your customers – and the expenses they are cutting are for products and services they have been buying from you.
So what do you do? Do you keep attempting to operate in the same way as before, and hope that business turns for the better? Or do you challenge the process and attempt some very ‘non-status-quo' options. Remember this: when companies are curtailing costs and buying less from you, they are communicating that the value proposition you have been offering them is no longer valid. To keep or even grow the business, you must find new ways to add value besides simply reducing your prices.
So here is the tough question. Are people in your organization competent enough to think up and deliver entirely new and mutually profitable avenues of value? Are your salespeople basically order takers, or do they have the ability to be innovative problem solvers? Do your customer care people have the skills to recognize a golden opportunity for new business when dealing with a customer, or are they basically a traditional complaint handling or fulfillment center? Does the senior team have the experience to lead a top-line, growth-focused turnabout, or are they only schooled in scrutinizing budgets line-by-line, or looking for assets to sell off or write off?
You cannot solve a competency deficiency overnight, but you can take two immediate actions. First, take the shackles off those you know are competent, and aid and support them in proposing and implementing new value-added ideas. Let go of the ingrained notion that valued-added ideas must always mean high cost. That is simply a bad assumption. Finally, start right now raising your own capabilities. Make a conscious and deliberate effort to improve on something important—be it skills in customer relationships, strategic thinking, leadership, collaborating, value chain analysis or whatever. There is nothing that prevents you from being able to increase your own or your organization's levels of competence, even in tough times.
Steve Coats, a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Certified Master, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers around the world in leadership development, team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Challenging the Process during these turbulent economic times can be, well, challenging! Innovation and continuous improvement efforts aimed at cost reductions would seem to be welcome activities. However, many organizations actually become more risk averse during downturns. They seek the comfort of established processes despite the possibility of gains from trying new approaches.
As a leader, it is important to speak up and offer alternatives to traditional budget and head-count reductions. It is doubtful that your organization can cost-cut itself to excellence. If you manage the risk in your approach to introducing novel measures, you may find the organization more open to meaningful and innovative challenge.
A clue lies in the wording of one of a commitment for this practice—"Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience." A successful challenge is structured like an experiment; that is, you have a hypothesis and defined variables. If you carefully design your approach, you can easily identify which variable veered off course and truly learn from the experiment. This allows for you or organization to make adjustments to the actions to reap the gains from proposed outcomes. Those of us in manufacturing know the design of experiments can eventually inform quality improvements. This approach works on with all sorts of processes, not just manufacturing. Think about the design of a scientific experiment when you craft your proposed challenge to a particular business case.
Small wins are also very important in today's economic environment. Each win along the way produces growth in your credibility and influence. These, in turn, are the fuel to keep moving ahead with your experiment. You will gain far more support for the challenge when you show it is working!
It is clear that in this time of crisis, something has got to give. So instead of giving staff and innovation the heave-ho, give Challenge the Process a try.
Michael T. Neiss is a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. He is a recognized leadership expert with a decidedly practical approach to leadership and management development. He is currently a trusted advisor on leadership issues for such great organization as Herman Miller, Inc., the U.S. Navy, and Pfizer (Upjohn.)
Have you ever been in a work environment where you heard someone say, "That's not my job!" Or perhaps, you wanted to say it yourself. Sometimes restrictions are placed on us by employers and sometimes we are content to stay inside a self-imposed "assumed" role and never venture out to see what lies beyond.
As owners of Fine Points Professionals, we have worked with the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) since 1997 and in 2004 started our present business, an Authorized Service Center for The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. We have grown passionate about the LPI and The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. Now, we specialize in administrating the LPI. Our initial business vision included three goals: 1) to provide stellar service to our clients, 2) for us and our employees to be blessed by the growth of our company, and 3) to look outwardly for sharing those blessings with others.
Which brings us back to "that's not my job"! In the fall of 2006 we brainstormed whether an LPI administration company could actually promote and present—free-of-charge—a public Leadership Challenge® Workshop to non-profit groups and public servants in our community. Could we challenge the process we had established for ourselves and produce the whole pie instead of one piece of it? We were now motivated to find a location, a facilitator (our good friend and Master Facilitator Steve Houchin), and fill the seats with people who really wanted to be there, but couldn't afford to attend under other circumstances.
That's when "not my job" became "let's do it!" and, eventually, the vision became reality. Gathered in a meeting room were fire fighters, police officers, clergy, professors, community center directors, teachers, missionaries, city officials—most of them from jobs where they serve their communities and fellow citizens. At Fine Points, we had attempted to expose these types of leaders to The Five Practices in the past, but felt like money was always the proverbial brick wall for them. To finally see 22 people who give of themselves selflessly on a daily basis learn about leadership was truly a dream come true for us.
A common practice at the workshop is to provide participants a choice of fun toys/rewards to use creatively to acknowledge people for something they've done. The first afternoon a woman presented us with a mini basketball hoop and ball and said "If this afternoon is anything like this morning, you've made a slam dunk." Inside, we breathed a huge sigh of relief—YES! Finally, we had received the sort of response for which we had been hoping. More comments followed after Day 2:
"The LPI was a wonderful way to hear helpful and constructive criticism in a non-threatening and yet honest way."
"To be honest, this was one of the most practical approaches to leadership. It was fantastic and enlightening."
"It's the best leadership seminar I have ever experienced."
The participants engaged in learning and for many it was life changing. Fire fighters went back to work with a renewed sense of team building and appreciation for their counterparts in the police force. Teachers returned to their troubled school districts with new ideas of how to enable parents to be more involved and more positive influences in their childrens' lives. Clergy went back to their places of worship inspired to take further action to encourage their parishioners. Community leaders returned to their organizations with a renewed desire to help their communities engage with each other to solve problems. For all of these people, change had occurred.
Whatever sacrifices we made as a company—financial resources, time, energy—were immediately worth it. It is interesting to realize that when we push ourselves to do something that is somewhat uncomfortable or unknown, we end up feeling empowered. For Fine Points Professionals, "that's not my job" has changed to "let's do it!" And for all of those who attended the workshop, we strongly hope that they will have the courage to venture out of their self-imposed "assumed" roles as well, and impact those around them in a positive way.
Amy Savage, Carol Wolper and Cheryl Boys are co-founders and owners of Fine Points Professionals, Ltd. The Leadership Challenge Authorized service provider for administration of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. For more information, visit www.finepointsprofessionals.com.
Over the years, I have asked hundreds of people to identify role models who have been successful in Challenging the Process within organizations, and then to describe how those people were able to succeed while so many others struggle. From this research, I have created a list of six factors for raising the probability of success in the difficult work of Challenging the Process. I hope you find them useful in your own efforts.
1. Respect the Culture
How would you like it if someone barged into your home and started lecturing you on how to raise your kids better? Most parents would be offended to some degree. In organizations, similar resistance can occur to those who Challenge the Process. You must be careful in how you confront and challenge accepted processes, systems, or behavioral norms.
It is crucial that you understand and appreciate the environment in which you are attempting to challenge the way something is currently done. You just cannot barge in and criticize the other people for their use of a process you believe to be inefficient or archaic, or send the message that you are the savior of the organization. Simply because you believe you have a better way of doing something does not mean that it is better in everyone's eyes.
Respecting the culture does not mean caving in and demonstrating unwillingness to push back with innovative ideas and changes. It does mean recognizing the past accomplishments of the people in the organization and not belittling those efforts because of a system or process that is no longer serving its purpose in the best way today. In order to be most effective, you need to be mindful that there are appropriate ways to have your "Challenging" (vs. "condescending") voice heard.
In spite of how well an organization is performing, there will always be an aspect of immense importance that is not performing well. It might be a compensation system, an internal overhead allocation process, the way new people are on-boarded, the means by which customer information is gathered, or a host of other processes or procedures. Leaders are willing to step up and take responsibility for addressing these opportunity areas. And they realize and communicate that working to improve certain processes which may have flaws, does not imply that the entire organization is broken or poorly managed.
2. Understand the Process You are Challenging.
Resist the urge to Challenge Processes you know nothing about.
This leadership practice requires homework. A process can have many parts that touch many people in many ways. A change to one part of a process can have unknown or unintended consequences in another part. You must understand a process in its current state, so you can determine the impact your changes will have. Remember that a solution to one problem often creates many new problems.
In addition, you must expect that you will likely offend or upset others when you initiate change. The quote "reform is usually not popular with those who are in charge of that which needs reform" is something to think about. Other peoples' reputations may be tied to the original process you are trying to change, or they might be most effective in their work with the way the process functions today. You need to know who may be negatively impacted by your proposed changes in order to figure out how to ultimately earn their support.
3. Build a Compelling Business Case (if you can)
This one is obvious, but not as easy as it appears. In our cost/benefit focused world, you must be able to prove your point. However - and this is crucial - often, you cannot present a rock-solid case for the change you may be proposing. Several years ago, I was working with a scientist from Bell Labs, back when it was a pure research lab. He told me that if a solid business case for development on the transistor would have been required, the research may have been scrapped. At that time, he said, no one could envision the varied uses that led to the transistor's ultimate commercial value, so its development costs would likely have far exceeded the currently identified, expected value.
Whether this was fact or just one scientist's opinion, his point of view provides a lesson we should grasp. Part of your role as a leader, is to help people go to places they have never been before. That means you will be frequently blazing new trails, with great ideas for doing things differently, which have never been fully proven. You still have to find and present evidence to convince people that a new and different approach is worth pursuing. Gut feel or personal opinion is seldom enough.
Finally, be reminded that you may have to rely on evidence other than facts, because sometimes indisputable facts just don't seem to pan out. For instance the cost advantage for a high tech company to outsource its customer service might be relatively easy to prove. But in another example, recall the surprising response when Southwest Airlines announced they were going to trial a dramatic change in their boarding procedures by offering pre-assigned seats. (Given that every other airline does it this way, wouldn't it be fair to say this process has proven to be most desirable?) Who would have thought that SWA customers would raise such an outcry, when their airline wanted to adopt the industry norm?
4. Build Advocates Inside and Beyond Your Current Circle.
Challenging the Process is hard and lonely work because it leads to change that can create discomfort and produce opponents. You need to be able to build a ground swell of support for your process or procedure innovations. Having key people throughout your organization carrying your message forth is a necessity to make progress. If you are unable to get others to join in, you can easily run out of energy and your novel idea will forever remain simply an idea, not an implemented improvement. A critical mass of supporters, from a wide variety of levels and interests, is often all you will need to be successful.
5. Build Credibility Through Small Wins.
In most organizations, being associated with a big idea that is a success is a great lift for your reputation and your career. But you have to earn the right to be heard on the big, important items. The second commitment in the definition of Challenge the Process refers to "generating small wins." Small wins allow you to build a track record with people, and to show that you can be counted on to deliver what you promise. Following through on promises and commitments is at the core of credibility. When you are viewed as credible, others will have more confidence when you propose a new way of doing something that is currently unproven. Do what you say you will do everyday, deliver consistently on the small things, and very soon you will be involved with - and trusted with - some very large opportunities about which you are passionate.
6. Choose Your Battles Thoughtfully.
It can be easy to become seduced by the dark side, where you become a constant critic of everything in hopes of demonstrating how smart or valuable you are. Don't become known as a whiner or complainer. Accept the fact that you cannot Challenge every Process. You must be selective and apply your time, talent, and energy toward improvements or breakthroughs that are an investment for you.
Like all aspects of leadership, Challenge the Process is about results. It is easy to Monday-morning quarterback and call out problems or inefficiencies that need attention. It is much harder to inspire and mobilize people to figure out and implement better ways of doing things. Focus on a few opportunities where you can take some real and measurable action.
Steve Coats is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. He is also a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Master Facilitator. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers in several countries around the world. His expertise is in the related areas of leadership development, team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. Steve can be contacted via e-mail.
Challenge the Process is one of my favorite practices for a couple of reasons. First, it is just great fun to see or read about some of the remarkable improvements and breakthroughs that people have made. I love the imagination of selling pre-cut lettuce in a bag or $300 iPods® in a vending machine. Some ideas work and some don't, but innovations like these sure keep the world interesting.
It is also a favorite because of its relevance. Challenge the Process is the practice of business growth, and growth is one of the most perplexing dilemmas facing organizations today. If they are unable to adapt, change and grow, it is impossible for organizations of any kind to produce solid results over time and literally survive. Yet, as crucial as this practice is, it may also be the most misunderstood of all. I continue to find people misinterpreting the meaning of Challenge the Process in a variety of ways. In fact, in some circumstances, the practice is misapplied as a defense for almost any kind of disagreement ("You're an idiot, but don't be personally offended since I am merely Challenging the Process!") One way to better understand what it is, is to ensure we know what it is not.
Challenge the Process does not mean challenge the values or standards, just because uncompromising integrity or flawless quality are too hard to live by. It does not mean attacking other people when we don't agree with their ideas or points of view. Nor does it mean seeking to dismantle what is working well, or attempting to eliminate something that is simply a personal inconvenience for you. Challenge the Process is about finding and implementing new and better ways of doing things in order to constantly improve to grow.
People in most organizations today have some pretty ambitious objectives to meet each year. The waters are choppy and the wind in their faces is strong, which means that hitting the numbers takes a lot of hard work. But hard work by itself is seldom the answer. It also takes a lot of different work. I frequently ask people if they think they can meet their goals for the coming years by continuing to do their work the way they are currently doing it. Without exception, the answer is no. This is one reason why organizations need more leaders. They need people who will cease the ongoing complaining about how outrageous goals might be (and some indeed are beyond reason), and start rallying people to figure out what can be done to accomplish them. Isn't it ironic that so-called unachievable or impossible goals are accomplished all the time? Somehow, people do figure out an answer.
In another article in this occasional series, we will share with you some of the proven to-do items that enable people in organizations to be more effective in Challenging the Process and implementing innovative ideas and methods. Be mindful how demanding this work can be, because it is seldom easy to convince others to let go of that with which they are comfortable and accept something different.
In the meantime, there are a couple of things you can immediately start practicing as a leader, in order to lay the groundwork for helping others embrace the need to challenge the way things are done. First, do not allow new ideas to be immediately discounted with little or no consideration. Intervene by prompting rich and open dialogue to ensure that ideas get a fair hearing. Second, never allow invalid assumptions to rule the day over proven facts. Ask people to justify their beliefs about whether something new will work or why it won't. Innovation and growth require discipline and thoughtfulness. Finally, spend less time reviewing and reporting on results already in the bank and more time on pursuing new possibilities. And remember the practice is Challenge the Process, not "Talk about Challenge the Process," so this pursuit requires more than simply surfacing and discussing new possibilities. You must allow people the opportunity to do some experimenting, tinkering, creating of prototypes, and so forth, before you can hope to achieve the results you are seeking.
I recently came across a fascinating story on leadership and maturity in The New York Times (April 2, 2006). The article recounted the tale of Erika Sunnegardh, a 40-year-old soprano who was about to make her debut at the Metropolitan Opera. It was, in fact, one of those dramatic moments in the arts. As the understudy, Ms. Sunnegardh, had received the call to step in as Leonore, the lead role of Beethoven's "Fidelio," and replace the ailing star, Karita Mattila. On top of the challenge of debuting at the Met as a leading player, Ms. Sunnegardh's performance was scheduled for Saturday, the day of the Met's radio broadcast. An audience of about 10 million people from around the world would be listening.
Erika Sunnegardh's story was an interesting one. Raised by musical parents in Sweden, she had studied singing and modern dance. She had come to New York City to seek her fortune at the age of 19. Lacking success she began, like so many other would-be performers, to wait tables. This work in restaurants and for catering groups continued for twenty years. But she also continued to sing, primarily performing in church choirs.
Frustrated by her stagnation Ms. Sunnegardh eventually resumed her training, this time returning to study with her mother. Her earlier training in New York had left her without the assurance, the confidence necessary for success. ''Vocal technique is like money or sex,'' she explained in the article, ''If you don't have it, it's all you think about.'' Her focus as well as her abilities improved and after an audition with Music Director James Levine, she was offered the opportunity to understudy and eventually play roles on the Metropolitan Opera stage.
Jonathan Friend, the artistic administrator of the Met, commented, "We were amazed at how big the voice was, especially at the top." He added that she had both beauty and maturity. ''She was, as a human being, grown up,'' he said. ''She had had another life, and knew what she didn't know." On her website Ms. Sunnegardh puts it this way, "Clearly, we re-visit old territory to learn more deeply, or to refresh our humility, and maybe most of all, gain clear insight into our magical, mystical and blessed stat of 'non-knowing.' It is after all then, and only then, that we can learn and grow at all!"
Daniel J. Wakin interviewed the singer only a few days before she learned that she was to star in "Fidelio." He wrote, "The humbleness of waiting on tables, she said, prepared her to deal with the pressure of a big career. Singing at funerals taught her that musical performance was not a celebration of the ego but something to be transmitted to other individuals. Years of struggle freed her from the debilitating fear of failure."
The New York Times review of the performance was less than glowing, but it pointed out "after intermission, in Act II, she seemed more relaxed and took greater chances, especially in the climatic scene when she defies the tyrannical governor of the prison and saves the day. She grew stronger as the opera swept forward to its joyous conclusion… she has talent, grit and determination."
By now you may wondering how this story relates to leadership. But let me assure you that Ms. Sunnegardh's story carries some very solid leadership lessons. The first, of course, is persistence. Eventually, the strength of her vision caused Ms. Sunnegardh to return to her love of music and seek out the opportunity that would give her true career a rebirth. It was her life experience, however, that really made her a better singer. She came to realize, through her singing at the church and at funerals, that "it wasn't just about her."
Ms. Sunnegardh had developed "artistic maturity." I believe that true leaders have to develop "leadership maturity." Great leaders realize that their role is not about themselves, but "something to be transmitted to other individuals."
As leaders, we must always Enable Others to Act. The key to success is not found in celebrating our own ego and individual accomplishments. It is, however, in creating confidence within the people we are counting on for great performance.
Most people would agree that The Five Practices model and the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) are widely accepted as tremendous business tools. While he book has sold over a million copies from the "Business" bookshelf, I often think that it would fit just as well in the "Self Help" section of a bookstore. Moreover, after years of delivering The Leadership Challenge Workshop and coaching individuals using The Five Practices model (rarely held in anything other than a business setting), I can assure you that the biggest gain from the work for most everyone is personal. Of course, this personal growth tends to leak and often pours into their professional life. Here is a quick real life story that illustrates the point.
At a senior level TLC workshop some time ago, a Vice President came up to me rather forcefully at a break and complained about the efficacy of the LPI.
"This instrument that you just gave me shows that I am a control freak, and I know I'm not. So what does that mean?" he asked alarmingly close to my face.
"Having a score on the Enable Others to Act that is low may mean that you are perceived as being overly controlling and not good at delegation," I said stepping back to catch my breath from his arrogant approach. "It also shows that you are not necessarily concerned with growing your talent."
"Does this mean I am a control freak at home?" he scoffed while punching at his report.
"Go home and ask your wife," I responded, knowing what the answer might be.
He stomped off like a lion that evening, but early the next morning he slithered into the room a little more sheepishly.
"So, how did it go last night," I chuckled with a slight smirk.
"I told my wife that I was at this workshop and the 'yahoo' who was leading the seminar said I was a control freak based on my LPI scores. Was this true? She stared at me for a moment and then blistered me with her questioning eyes and verbally shrugged 'Hellooo'!"
"So, I asked her if this meant that I was over-controlling with our son. And," he relayed, after the longest pause, "she looked at me again with those piercing eyes and blurted with a more commanding tone 'Ya think'?"
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. So being the legendary "big-deal" executive of his imagination, he decided to check it out on his own. He did a mini focus group.
Heading off to his son's bedroom, he told his boy the story about the workshop and even defined the word "controlling" to his 12-year-old so there would be no mistake in the answer.
"As I was sharing the information with my boy and asking the question, I saw his eyes fill with tears as he muttered, 'Dad, you hurt me all the time'."
As a waterfall of emotion tumbled down his son's red cheeks, the father, with his head slumped into his palms, finally understood what the LPI was telling him. He was not helping his son grow and he realized his workmates were probably feeling like spare parts as well.
That day, the "big-deal" executive got it. Using The Five Practices model, he began to appreciate and nurture his relationships in all areas of his life. Today, keeping his updated LPI nearby, he has become a credible CEO as well as a more trusted father and husband at home.
Make the choice. Use The Five Practices and the LPI to get a true glimpse of how the frequency of your behavior is perceived in all of life's situations, not just the workplace. It might make all the difference in your world.
I'd like to share a story about a dilemma one manager faced that beautifully illustrates these thoughts. And while this article focuses primarily on "enabling others to act" it also touches on all of The Five Practices.
Several years ago I conducted a university-sponsored, high-level leadership program that occurred in three, intense, residential weeks spread over a four month period. High-level managers from organizations around the world attended with the intent of being challenged and having their leadership skills ratcheted up several notches. In order to promote full participation, we required participants to clear their calendars while they were in residence. This requirement also served as a small test of their willingness to delegate—could their shop run effectively for a week without their constant attention.
One of these managers was a woman named Sue from a large public utility. In getting to know her in the first residential week, she told us that one of her many responsibilities was to present a quarterly business status report to the CEO and senior management team. She had done several of these presentations and had received kudos from the top executives on what a great job she did. We also learned that one of these meetings was scheduled for the week following the program's second residential week - approximately two months later.
Upon return to her job after the first week of the workshop the CEO informed Sue that the quarterly meeting had to be rescheduled which meant the new date fell on the Thursday of her second residential week. Sue had a dilemma. She now had conflicting commitments - to be in the leadership program or to present the quarterly report. In the real world of course the CEO wins such a "yes - no" conflict. But Sue paused a moment and considered whether there was a "yes - and" possibility here.
She chose a creative and potentially risky way to honor both of her commitments. She decided to delegate the quarterly report presentation to two of the top people on her team. And she did a great job of setting them up to succeed.
When Sue asked them to take on the presentation task they blanched and said, "But Sue you are great at this and…it's the top brass…are you sure about this?" Sue replied, "Yes, I know you can do it. You have seen me do the presentation so you know what happens and you know the content as well as I do. You'll do great. But I don't want you to just present the information, I also want you to prepare the material you will present - and I'll help you." Sue could feel their apprehension but she knew they were ready for this next big step.
Over the next few weeks Sue coached and supported them, but made sure the responsibility for the presentation stayed in their hands knowing that ultimately she would be still accountable for the outcomes.
When Sue returned for her second residential week she told us of her dilemma and what she chose to do about it. On Thursday we paused the workshop and said to Sue, "We have to know what happened. Go call and find out how it went." Sue returned with a glowing report. The presentation had gone well and the senior staff was pleased. The two presenters felt as though they had won Olympic gold. The CEO had left a voice mail for Sue acknowledging her for her courage to delegate the task and for setting her people up to succeed so well. By enabling her people in this way Sue had created wins all around.
But there was another, possibly bigger, win in this experience for Sue. She said that had she not been faced with this challenge she never would have delegated the presentation task - she saw it as part of her "special stuff that only I can do." Now Sue was challenging herself on all of her tasks to see what else she could delegate. With her new perspective she found several other "plums" that she could hand off. There were several positive results - a boost in morale on the team, people feeling good about new challenges, and opportunities for team members to get exposure in new ways. The result for Sue was that she was able to free up precious time to work on some higher-level strategic ideas that she had. Two months later Sue received a promotion. She was told that one reason why she was promoted was how well she had developed her team and created effective backups.
What do you have on your plate—right now—that would enable someone else?
Charles St. John is an internationally experienced management coach and consultant on leadership and organizational effectiveness. His firm The Results Group, Inc. is based in Denver.
Everywhere you turn there is another article written about the looming impact of retiring baby boomers. According to the Conference Board, as many as 64 million skilled workers will be eligible to retire by the year 2010. That is a staggering number, to be sure.
I don't know about you, but this impending labor crunch keeps many of my clients awake at night wondering just who will replace this mass of retiring baby boomers. Their children (or in some cases grandchildren) will, that's who.
Often referred to as Generation Y, the Millennium Generation, or Generation Me, these 18- to 24-year-olds are the newest members of the workforce and represent the future of leadership for our organizations. Bringing to the workplace vastly different expectations about work, life balance, social conscious, and what it means to succeed in a career, these twenty-somethings stand in stark contrast to the boomers they are replacing. Although sometimes maligned for lacking loyalty and the work ethic of their parents, nothing could be farther from the truth. Members of Generation Y are very knowledgeable, have spent their lives surrounded by technology, are well connected to information and a vast social network, and are capable of being highly productive.
So what makes this group different? Like generations before, Generation Me has been shaped by experience. They witnessed 9/11 and the shootings at Columbine which, together, demonstrated how vulnerable life is to unpredictable events and how suddenly tragedy can bring life to an abrupt end. Their views on loyalty have been shaped by the corporate "right-sizings" that victimized their parents, friends and neighbors. Global warming and other environmental and health issues have raised their social conscious. Often raised in dual income households in relative affluence, Gen-Yers were taught to believe that they could do or become anything they wanted. Instead of punishment, boomer parents worked to build self-esteem in their children by showering them with coaching, attention, and praise.
Kim Chesky is the founder and learning partner for Human Performance Solutions, an organization dedicated to helping clients enhance individual, team, and organizational effectiveness. He is also a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. Kim enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, reading, coaching, and refereeing youth athletics and continuing his pursuit of life-long learning. Email him.
Courage. Encourage. Two words, same origin. Heart. You gotta have heart. Miles and miles and miles of it. There's no bravery or boldness without heart. There's no spirit or support without heart. There's no sacrifice or soul without heart. Nothing great ever gets done without heart. You gotta have heart.
And at the heart of leadership is caring. Without caring, leadership has no purpose. And without showing others that you care and what you care about, other people won't care about what you say or what you know. As a relationship, leadership requires a connection between leaders and their constituents over matters, in the simplest sense, of the heart. It is personal and it is interpersonal.
We need heart because the struggle to the top is arduous. Our research tells us that is we're going to make it to the summit we need someone shouting in our ear, "Come on, you can do it. I know you can do it!" It's not something we easily admit-a lot of times we think we can do it alone. But we all really do need encouragement. Encouragement boosts performance, strengthens our resolve, and improves our health. Otherwise, why perform to an audience? Why not just sing to an empty room, play to an empty arena, or sell only to yourself? We need the applause and knowing that we're connecting to others in order to do out best. We need the enthusiasm and the energy from others.
We need to feel connected to others and, in turn, they to us, because greatness is never achieved all by ourselves-alone. Encouraging the Heart is the leadership practice that connects us with one another. It signals and documents that we're in "this" together-whatever this project, program, campaign, neighborhood, congregation, division, and so on, may be. Social capital joins financial and intellectual capital as the necessary ingredients for organizational success. In creating social capital leaders encourage the heart so that people will want to be with and for one another. When leaders commend individuals for achieving the values or goals of the organization, they give them courage, inspiring them to experience their own ability to deliver-even when the pressure is on. When we recognize women and men for their contributions we expand their awareness of their value to the organization and to their co-workers, imparting a sense of connectedness that, being social animals, all humans seek. While we may all be connected, leaders make sure that we're in touch.
Excerpted from Encouraging the Heart: A Leader's Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others Copyright © 2003 by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. Published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint. All Rights Reserved.
Given the tremendous emphasis the Honduran people place on education and the opportunity and desire for many of them to be educated in the U.S., it's likely that The Leadership Challenge in some shape or form has previously found its way into the country. For certain, during three days in February, it was not only the center of attention for the Tegucigalpa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but drew the attention of the country's newly elected president, The Honorable Porfirio Lobo.
In a joint effort between one of the largest Protestant churches in Honduras and the Tegucigalpa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ken Edmundson, the president of Edmundson Northstar Training Institute in Memphis, Tennessee, was invited to conduct two one-day seminars on the Five Practices of The Leadership Challenge to business leaders, entrepreneurs and aspiring leaders. Edmundson, an avid student and teacher of The Leadership Challenge, found the invitation too intriguing to dismiss and discovered the opportunity to speak to a largely Spanish speaking audience and introduce the concepts and practices of The Leadership Challenge extremely inspiring.
As Edmundson said, "During most full days of training, participants show some signs of time anxiety and loss of energy as the day moves along, even in the most exciting seminars, but this group of Honduran business leaders was as energized at the end of the day as they were in the beginning."
Another highlight of the trip was an invitation for the team to visit with newly elected President Lobo. It was there where Edmundson and his fellow teachers were able to visit with and listen to President Lobo's passion and desire to lead his people to a greater commitment and investment in his country, and through nearly an hour and one-half discussion of business principles and concepts, seemed pleased to learn of the joint effort of the Tegucigalpa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Impacto Church and The Leadership Challenge.
While Edmundson led the teaching on The Leadership Challenge, he was accompanied by Mike Ducker, the Chief Operating Officer of FedEx; John Nordstrom, Managing Director of Morgan Keegan; and David Coombs, a retired senior executive of Anderson Tully and currently Senior Administrative Pastor for Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. While Edmundson taught The Leadership Challenge, they each worked in complementary venues to discuss leadership in crisis and values in leadership, which were coordinated with the teaching Edmundson did on The Leadership Challenge.
When asked, Edmundson said, "It was probably one of the most receptive groups I've ever worked with, and to do the teaching in simultaneous translation was not as challenging as you might think. Probably the most intriguing part had to do with the LPI, and while we were not able to do a computerized LPI, we did the manual version (in Spanish), and they were fascinated by the ability to measure their leadership style in such quantifiable terms.”
Edmundson is a proponent that leadership must have three elements for it to qualify as a real leadership system: you must be able to describe it, define it, and measure it. Edmundson says The Leadership Challenge clearly qualifies because you can describe it as the Five Practices; define it as Relational; and measure it with the LPI 360.
This is another example of the international appeal the Five Practices of The Leadership Challenge has in any language with every culture. As Edmundson said, "The Leadership Challenge practices work regardless of the language you speak.”
Edmundson said he could not have pulled this off without the close support from Craig Haptonstall of Leadership Mechanics; his master teacher, Denise Sullivan, Business Development Manager for The Leadership Challenge; and Ashley Evans, his sales specialist at John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Pictured (left to right): Ken Edmundson, Edmundson Northstar Training Institute, Mike Ducker, Chief Operating Officer Fedex and Honduran President Porfirio Lobo.
Edmundson Northstar Institute, a training institute, contributed this article. For more information, contact Laura Svec at 901-435-7778 or email@example.com.
It is possible to be a Leader, and yet not demonstrate Leadership. However, the reverse is not true: it is not possible to demonstrate Leadership and not be a Leader. What?
What does it mean to be a Leader, and how is it possible to be a Leader and not be demonstrating Leadership? It begins with the very definition of the word Leader: a person who leads—one who is "out in front" or "first." The focus of this type of out-in-front Leader is the self. For example, think about the sales industry. Many recognition and reward programs are established to identify the "sales leader." This person is acknowledged as the one leading other sales professionals in volume or dollars and is generally identified as "the one to beat." Often the people who are "behind" the sales leader are lagging in numeric performance; they are intentionally not "following the leader." These followers may not aspire to be more like the leader, other than to experience similar sales results and performance. In fact, they would rather be "out in front" themselves and might do whatever is required to achieve or maintain this first place status. Because of this achievement orientation, followers may even personally dislike the leader. Similarly, the sales leader may not want anyone else on the team to exceed his/her own performance level, which would result in the loss of the leader's own personal recognition and reward. So even though there are people "following" the leader (in that they are behind), the leader may not be doing anything to support the follower's growth and success. Being a leader can be an independent, solo initiative, without the care or concern of another's growth and contributions.
Because we typically do not willingly follow hypocrisy, to demonstrate Leadership a person must also be a credible Leader. It is important to followers that a Leader personify the characteristics of Leadership that matter most: honesty, inspiration, foresight, and emotional competence. In other words, demonstrating Leadership requires the Leader to be a behavioral "model" that others aspire to be more like. This Leader type cares deeply about his/her constituents' growth and contributions, sometimes more deeply than they care about themselves. And in demonstrating the dynamics of extraordinary Leadership, people willingly mobilize and follow the guidance this credible Leader provides, even at times contributing more than is required. Followers of this Leader type typically both admire and respect the person. Their desire to contribute is further fueled because they believe in and buy into the cause. Since they can clearly see the intentions, they are willing to take risks in order to achieve the desired outcomes. As a contributing member of a committed team, they are both empowered and enabled to contribute to the cause. Lastly and just as important, they are recognized and encouraged for their contributions and accomplishments all along the way.
In the art of Leadership, the focus shifts beyond the self. As defined by Jim and Barry in The Leadership Challenge, "Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to struggle for shared aspirations." This change in focus—from self to others—does not typically occur without some conscious intention and effort. It requires energy and skill, and dedicated practice to become highly accomplished in making this transition. While most development models focus either on developing Leaders, or on enhancing people's ability to demonstrate Leadership, The Leadership Challenge development strategy incorporates both Leader and Leadership. This development combination of an evidence-based leadership model is a market distinguishing characteristic of The Leadership Challenge! So remember, it means a lot more to demonstrate the art of Leadership, than it does to simply be a Leader! Which Leader are YOU?
Craig Haponstall is president and CEO of Leadership Mechanics, LLC, and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. An experienced and results oriented speaker and coach whose corporate career has included positions with Southwest Airlines and The Tom Peters Company, he can be reached at www.leadershipmechanics.com.
For years we have stated that while management is an affair of the head, leadership is an affair of the heart. Today, neuroscience is proving us right!
When we have a direct experience, nerve impulses travel first to the enteric nervous system—literally a second brain in our intestines—that produces an instant gut reaction (what we might call 'butterflies'). Next stop for the impulses are the baroreceptors in the heart, or the third brain. The brain in the heart communicates to the rest of the body in a number of ways, one of which is a chemical messenger in the hormonal system called atrial peptide, a principle driver of motivated behavior (the goal of every leader!). Neural messages travel to the brain in our heads to be "thought about" after they have been sensed and interpreted by the intestines and the heart.
What does this mean for leaders? First, whenever you confront important issues and before deciding on a course of action, ask yourself what your gut and heart are telling you in addition to what your head might think. Purposeful, committed action requires an alignment between your head and heart.
Second, messages to constituents must be connected to the heart and gut, reflecting your true feelings. Since behavior is so heavily influenced by what we feel, any perceived disconnect between words and real feelings often makes us appear untrustworthy and damages our credibility—the essential foundation of effective leadership. Constituents believe in the authenticity of leadership when true feelings and beliefs, spoken and written communications, and actions are all in sync.
Third, important messages about vision, strategy, or change must first invoke a positive feeling in the guts and hearts of constituents. If not, your words likely will be interpreted negatively by the message centers in their brains, resulting in the all-too-familiar "resistance to change" syndrome.
Finding your unique leadership voice-one that consistently inspires high levels of performance by constituents—is a significant "leadership challenge" but one worthy of your best efforts. One way to get started is to reflect on the following thought questions:
Successful leaders have discovered that they must first listen to their own heart, be comfortable with who they are, and ensure that their words and actions are consistent with both what they believe and their authentic selves. Only then can they can win the hearts and minds of their constituents.
As leadership educators and developers, the questions we get our students to ask themselves have a tremendous impact on both their desire and ability to lead. Most important, they learn to lead by leading, beginning with leading themselves. With that realization, I believe that in the future we should move beyond talking to students about leadership. We must create opportunities for them to be leaders, to do leadership. When we design these learning experiences right we can liberate the leader within everyone. This was precisely the insight which one student reported in her final reflective essay:
"With almost every previous leadership workshop I have been a part of in the past, the actual work on leadership skills ended 45 seconds after we were dismissed. We may have looked at surveys from our peers where they gave us anonymous, honest feedback on our leadership styles. We may have even performed some advanced self-reflection.
During the [Leadership Challenge] workshops, we learned about leadership theory, heard tales of great leadership moments, and worked in teams on challenging problems, exposing the importance of leadership. This course was different in two ways. First, there is a natural and organic structure to the five key areas of exemplary leadership. It is a structure that allows for focusing one's energies in areas that require the most attention. They also provide a sort of troubleshooter's guide to benchmark your efforts against, to create the most productive and inspired environment with one's teams. Second, learning did not end when we left the classroom. I have never before spent as much time and energy after a productive workshop reflecting on my own leadership style, articulating and refining my leadership goals, and actually practicing my leaderships skills. As with the pursuit of mastery of any new skill, we must develop a habit of success which is usually earned through dealing with familiar situations in entirely new ways."
"With almost every previous leadership workshop I have been a part of in the past, the actual work on leadership skills ended 45 seconds after we were dismissed. We may have looked at surveys from our peers where they gave us anonymous, honest feedback on our leadership styles. We may have even performed some advanced self-reflection.
During the [Leadership Challenge] workshops, we learned about leadership theory, heard tales of great leadership moments, and worked in teams on challenging problems, exposing the importance of leadership. This course was different in two ways. First, there is a natural and organic structure to the five key areas of exemplary leadership. It is a structure that allows for focusing one's energies in areas that require the most attention. They also provide a sort of troubleshooter's guide to benchmark your efforts against, to create the most productive and inspired environment with one's teams. Second, learning did not end when we left the classroom. I have never before spent as much time and energy after a productive workshop reflecting on my own leadership style, articulating and refining my leadership goals, and actually practicing my leaderships skills. As with the pursuit of mastery of any new skill, we must develop a habit of success which is usually earned through dealing with familiar situations in entirely new ways."
Each day provides our students (truly each one of us) the chance to become better leaders. Each day offers opportunities to provide leadership. Each day serves up the prospect of leaving a legacy. Here is how one student nailed this same point, when he concluded: "The first important lesson that I have learned is that leadership is a lifelong practice, it is not necessarily inherent. While I do believe that there are some born leaders, individuals who have a natural talent to lead, even those leaders can improve if they practice the skills and focus on daily improvement. More importantly perhaps, it is not a weakness to need to, and choose to, practice leadership skills. It is another step in the desire for self improvement, one that allows for ever greater achievement through the powers of high performing teams working effectively toward a common purpose."
As our colleague John Maxwell, himself the author of numerous books on leadership, told us, "It's been said that there are two kinds of people in life: those who make things happen and those who wonder what happened. Leaders have the ability to make things happen. People who don't know how to make things happen for themselves won't know how to make things happen for others." He went on to tell us that "what you do with the future means the difference between leaving a track record and leaving a legacy."
Developing leaders is not the result of wishful thinking, reading a book, or taking a class. Developing leaders is the result of determined doing, from the inside out.
© 2009 by the Association of Leadership Educators. All Rights Reserved. Excerpted from Barry Posner's article "From Inside Out: Beyond Teaching About Leadership," published in the Journal of Leadership Education, Volume 8, Issue 1 - Summer 2009. To view the entire article, as well the current issue and previous journal issues, please visit http://www.leadershipeducators.org/JOLE.
Barry Posner is Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years, at Santa Clara University. Together with Jim Kouzes, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over twenty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development.
A few years ago, I bought a piano. I had always wanted to play. Yet, in a relatively short time, I determined that buying this marvelous instrument was most likely a blunder. The truth was that although I very much wanted to play the piano, I discovered that I did not want to learn to play the piano.
When it comes to leadership development, that same perspective is alive and well within many organizations. It is quite common to hear, "we want our managers to be leaders." But this transformation does not occur just because it is a new organizational mantra. People have to learn to be better leaders. And like all learning, it takes time and commitment. But that's not all. . .
You may recall the story of the first-time visitor to New York City who asked a local how to get to Carnegie Hall. The response? "Practice, practice, practice." Besides time and commitment, learning to lead takes practice. Managers do not suddenly turn into leaders because of a new title, promotion, or even self-proclamation. They must learn and practice new skills, and become more confident and competent in applying them. Attending a couple of training sessions each year is not enough, nor is reading a few books on the topic. While being exposed to a wide variety of leadership approaches often is beneficial, exposure to the "latest and greatest" (which seems to change almost monthly) can make it even more difficult to stay focused on those skills that most need to be practiced and refined.
And learning about leadership is not the same thing as learning to lead. They certainly go together, but to earn an invitation to the Carnegie Hall of leadership, you must be able to demonstrate your great talent, not just your knowledge. Becoming proficient in leadership or any other endeavor requires vigilance and hard work: trying, failing, trying again, and on and on. It takes practice, practice, practice.
It is easy to find examples of the relationship between practice and extraordinary performance. As I watched the stunning accomplishments of athletes at the recently completed Beijing Olympics, I was reminded of the time I saw Olympian Michelle Kwan compete at the U.S. Women's Figure Skating Championship. All of us in the arena that night knew we were witnessing a truly world-class athlete. After marveling at her breathtaking performance, I remember thinking how much of her life she must have dedicated to practicing - falling - adjusting - and practicing some more. One can only imagine the number of things-large and small-that she had to master to become the extraordinary performer she ultimately became.
Or consider Pablo Casals, the great cellist. On the day he died, he was reported to have spent the morning practicing scales. There are already legendary tales about the amount of time Tiger Woods spends on the golf course, immediately before and after competitions, perfecting his game. Even pilots-from commercial air carriers to the space shuttle-spend time in simulators, honing the skills they need to be their best.
As natural as practice may be for others who achieve extraordinary performance in professions such as these, that is not the case for many people aspiring to be better leaders. And there is a compelling reason why.
Athletes, musicians, and many others in similar professions practice and practice to prepare for scheduled performance times. Whether a concert or an Olympic competition, these are times when they must demonstrate their best, when they are judged and evaluated. They practice away from the spotlight (and critics) and frequently, if not always, with a teacher or coach close by to help them develop their talent step-by-step. Practice is their safe time to test, make mistakes, struggle, learn and improve.
But for leaders, in what environment do we get to practice? That's right: we are on stage, in the presence of the people we are attempting to lead, and usually without the supporting hand of a mentor or coach. Aspiring leaders do not enjoy a private, safe haven. Practice takes place in the public spotlight, in real time. And when performance comes up short, important people see it. Often without the benefit of private counseling from a coach or the opportunity to immediately try again, mistakes, awkwardness, and appearance of incompetence-all natural parts of learning-are in full view. Not a very comfortable situation, is it!
So 'work-in-progress leaders' are asked to inspire commitment from followers who, everyday, see evidence that their skills are not fully polished. (And, don't forget, it is these same followers that are also a leader's toughest judges and critics.) No wonder a lot of aspiring leaders keep a low profile and make slow progress. Practice is just too risky.
However, there are lessons out of all of this. First, if you are personally striving to become a better leader, take heart! It is going to take great courage and resolve. You must be willing to put your "less than perfect performances" in the spotlight for everyone to see. You are going to make a lot of mistakes as you practice and learn, and those will often bruise the relationships you are trying to build with your people. But despite the discomfort, you must acknowledge your shortcomings, continue to learn from the mistakes, and keep working at sharpening the skills necessary to make you a better leader. Not practicing is simply not an option.
And there also is a lesson here for those who are trying to help managers become leaders. Be very encouraging and supportive. Make it safe for them to try new behaviors and work with them to help them improve. Be aware of the emotional toll that learning takes and help them overcome the feelings of inadequacy they may often experience. And of course, look for ways to recognize the progress they are making and continually reassure them that their struggles are for a truly important and worthy goal.
Steve Coats is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. He is also a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Master Facilitator. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers in several countries around the world. Steve can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Budgets are tight; we're cutting expenses; we've laid people off." These comments are ringing in all our ears, as we talk with current and prospective clients and in-house partners about leadership development during what arguably has been the worst recession in 75 years. No news here. Using a revered strategy called, "Leadership? Not Now!" halting educational activities during difficult economic times has occurred since the invention of the training budget.
But if we can take a cue from the world's Most Admired Companies, a far better approach—in spite of the economic challenges—would be "Leadership? Especially Now!" Earlier this year, Fortune magazine identified these highly respected companies and sought to determine what they had in common, providing a North Star for the rest of us coveting a position on this elite list. Contrary to what we might assume, the Most Admired Companies do not share common organizational structures or operating models, although they do resist incessant fiddling with either one, in contrast with their less-admired counterparts.
The most common denominator among the world's Most Admired Companies was a continuing commitment to identifying, growing, and nurturing talent in spite of the challenging economic environment. Of course, these companies review budgets and programs for effectiveness, ensure their development offerings support business imperatives, and design metrics to measure impact. But bottom line, they continue to invest heavily in their people.
We are living in a historic period of chaos and change. Organizations and enterprises face challenges that demand the absolute best their leaders have to offer, including the ability to replace their associates' fear and uncertainty with confidence and commitment. The world's Most Admired Companies recognize this truth and, as a result, most likely will exit the far end of this economic tunnel with stronger performance, increased market share, and a more capable and engaged workforce.
The noble title of "leader" is granted to those courageous people who mobilize others to overcome difficult circumstances and accomplish the extraordinary. "Why Leadership? Because We Need it Now!"
Steve Houchin, owner and Managing Partner of International Leadership Associates, has presented the Leadership Challenge Workshop® to mid-level and senior executives in corporations around the country for over 15 years. He can be reached at email@example.com
For those of you who haven't seen the documentary, An Inconvenient Truth featuring Al Gore, it highlights the Earth's immediate climate crisis. With all due respect, the film is moving, but it should not take a dramatized documentary for us to realize the crisis we face. Clearly, we have an effect on our environment-scientific data leaves no other conclusion. Part of the problem is that we utilize our environment with no regard for it. In addition to the consequences of global warming, environmental resources will become scarce as the world's population increases. Census data tells us that the world's population is currently six and a half billion and is expected to reach nine billion by 2050. At what point will the earth no longer be able to support its population? No one really knows.
For Generation X, there are many impending catastrophic issues. Unless we change "business as usual" and take a collective global stand against the degradation of the environment, our doom is sealed. Although I believe greatly in the resilience of the human spirit and our ability to intervene, one cannot help but wonder if we will reach a point where there are no more opportunities for intervention.
The only solution to the environment/population collision starts with you and me. Whether a CEO of a Fortune 100 Company or a member of the local community action group, you should have a vested interest in finding ways to shift our current path. The solution is complex, and each of us needs to be a leader in the process. As The Leadership Challenge states "Leadership is Everyone's Business." Leadership is the ticket to a sustainable future.
The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, provide us with an ideal framework to enlist others to want this sustainable future:
One of the Master Facilitators for the Leadership Challenge® Workshop, Sharon Landes, concludes her two day sessions by reciting a piece from the Hopi Elders. This powerful statement provides a few moments of self-reflection and consideration of personal responsibility.
You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.
Here are the things that must be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know our garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel like they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off toward the middle of
the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
See who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all
ourselves! For the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lonely wolf is over.
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.
We have a pending crisis on our hands. Waiting for others to solve it will not work. What legacy will you leave? Will you step up to make a sustainable difference in your community?
Daren Blonski is an authorized affiliate of the Leadership Challenge. Daren studied at UC Davis where he received his bachelors in Organizational Studies. His passions are leadership philosophy and entrepreneurship. He enjoys spending time with his wife Shae and finding adventures outdoors.
I'm the kind of leader that struggles with small wins. Generally obsessed with the big picture and often impatient with what I feel like are the tedious steps necessary to reach the end state, Small Wins just seem like hurdles, when I'd rather be pole vaulting. Still, I understand the concept (as well as being acutely aware of my shortcomings as a leader), and it certainly makes sense to me. In fact, when I think about Small Wins a smile appears on my face as I hear Mickey Rooney singing, "Put one step in front of the other" from the childhood holiday classic Santa Clause is Comin' to Town. Of course, I say to myself, one step in front of the other.
I recently gained a whole new appreciation for small wins after a hearing a report by Adam Davidson on NPR. The story begins just over a year ago with 27-year-old Kyle McDonald who wanted to revive a childhood trading game. In the ultimate internet barter, Kyle started with one red paperclip and in just fourteen trades, ended up with a 3-bedroom house in the Town of Kipling, Saskatchewan. The story goes onto say how he has become a "media sensation," flying around the world for media interviews and appearing on Good Morning America, CNN, and 20/20 here in the United States. In his report, Davidson goes onto say that "inspiring" is the word most often used to describe Kyle McDonald's quest. His story is causing people to wonder about their own red paperclip in the context of the first step toward a goal or dream.
Kyle's story is a bit too gimmicky to inspire me, but it has become a powerful testament to the power of Small Wins. He not only got the house, but he got the world rooting for him to get the house. Total strangers from around the globe began to share his vision as one trade led to another, led to another, led to another. In The Leadership Challenge Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner put it this way, "Successful leaders help other to see how progress can be made by breaking the journey down into measurable goals and milestones…. Leaders keep the dream in mind; then they act and adapt on the move."
I recently participated in a Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) Clinic offered by The Leadership Challenge® Workshop Master Facilitator Peter Alduino. I hadn't taken an LPI in more years than I can remember, so figured it was time to reassess. As a result, I'm feeling a great deal more empathy and kinship with workshop participants these days. And my personal LPI analysis led me to some key points that have influenced how I present and coach the LPI.
I often use a version of the SARAH model (Shock, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance, Help/Hope) when I introduce the LPI and lately I've been emphasizing the point that Acceptance does not necessarily mean Agreement. That is, that although a respondent, or even several respondents, may see you in particular way, you don't have to agree that it's the "God's honest truth" about you. You can even disagree . . . strongly. All you have to do is accept that's the way they see it, and then make your own decisions about what you want to do differently.
The choice is yours! What you do in response to your LPI is "between you and you." You get to decide what to work on, what to leave alone for a while, how to proceed. And although we, as facilitators, can offer up lots of 'best practices' suggestions about how to choose and how to proceed to follow up, ultimately, what makes the most sense to the individual, for his or her own reasons, will engender the greatest commitment and motivation for behavior change.
I've also started asking folks to consider the question, "Where does the responsibility for behavior change lie?" It's easy and natural to assume that when a respondent reports low frequency in a given behavior, it's up to the leader to find ways to engage in that behavior more often, notwithstanding the other side of the relationship. That will likely raise the score, but it may not be the best thing to do. Here's an example that comes up a lot. Let's say someone gets a low score on the Encouraging the Heart behaviors from one or two respondents, and in discussion, they complain that, in truth, they have a couple of Direct Reports whose performance is lacking and, "they'll be !**#!'ed if they pat someone on the head for just showing up!" Perhaps, in that situation, the responsibility for change lies with the Direct Reports; and that rather than focusing primarily on finding ways to give more praise, the leader needs to look at Enabling Others to Act behaviors; and on setting clear performance standards and opening dialogue to insure that expectations are clear and staff are accountable and take ownership for results. Just be sure to caution folks to be honest with themselves, rather than using the 'convenient excuse' that it's always the respondents who have to change!
Another way I've started to think about the key point above is this: the 'right' question is not necessarily the most obvious one. So when I coach and consult with folks on their LPI's I try to remember not to start with a conversation about how to raise behavior scores or how they interact in relation to individual behaviors, but with a more general inquiry into what's going on in their area and in their work relationships. With that insight, we can interpret the LPI data in context together, understand the unique situation more fully, and more successfully zero in on the critical issues and the behaviors that will offer the most leverage for improved relationships and results.
The Leadership Challenge® Workshop Master Facilitator Sharon Landes' expertise includes leadership, ethics and diversity. She has collaborated with recognized thought leaders in these areas and has led and designed programs based on Terry Pearce's Leading Out Loud and Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner's The Leadership Challenge and Credibility. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The late John Gardner, leadership scholar and presidential advisor, once remarked, "Pity the leader caught between unloving critics and uncritical lovers." I'm quite taken by this observation. It should be on a poster that hangs over every leader's desk-or a screen saver on their computers-and it should be read and contemplated several times a day.
None of us likes to hear the constant screeching of the harpies who have only foul things to say. At the same time, we never benefit from, nor truly believe, the sycophants whose flattery is so obviously aimed at gaining favor. To stay honest with ourselves, what we really need are "loving critics"-people who care deeply enough to give us honest feedback about how we're doing.
According to research Barry Posner and I have conducted over the years, credibility is at the foundation of leadership. From a behavioral perspective, credibility is about "doing what you say you will do." But how can you do what you say if you don't know how you're doing? If you never ask for feedback on your behavior and on how your behavior affects how others are doing, how can you really expect to align your words and your actions over the long haul?
There's solid evidence that the best leaders are highly attuned to what's going on inside of them as they are leading, as well as what's going on with others. They're very self-aware and they're very socially aware. They can tell in short order whether they've done something that has enabled someone to perform at a higher level or whether they've sent motivation heading south.
Setting up a system for getting regular feedback (the equivalent of the dashboard) and paying attention to that feedback will help a leader more effectively move the organization forward. All leaders want to have a positive impact on performance. It's part of their legacy. The only way they can know if they're having the desired impact is to get regular feedback on how they're doing.
In addition to the annual 360-degree assessment, try this the next time you're in a meeting. Begin by asking, "How am I doing?" More than likely you'll be greeted with stunned silence—a sure sign folks are not used to being asked this question by you (or anyone else) and are uncomfortable in responding. But if you wait long enough some brave soul may venture an honest response. When she or he does, immediately recognize him or her for showing some courage, and tell the rest of the group, "That's what we need more of around here. More loving critics."
Jim Kouzes is a highly regarded leadership scholar, experienced executive, and coauthor (with Barry Posner) of The Leadership Challenge. He also is Dean's Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University and has been cited by The Wall Street Journal as one of the twelve best executive educators in the U.S.
If you have seen the reruns for the 1970's television detective series Columbo, or the subsequent made-for-TV movies, you'll remember that oftentimes just as frumpy, disheveled Lt. Columbo was finishing a conversation with a suspect and on his way out the door, he would invariably pause, put his index finger up to his forehead, turn back to the suspect, point his finger, and say, "Oh, by the way," and ask one last question. And it was the answers to those final oh-by-the-way questions that, when woven together, would ultimately help him solve the case.
Curiosity is our determined internal sleuth that regularly seeks out clues, hints and data to satisfy the huge appetite in each one of us that has little taste for stasis or status quo, but prefers instead a plate with generous helpings of answers to our whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, hows, and I-wonder-ifs!
Even a casual glance around our offices or our homes provides overwhelming evidence of our insatiable curiosity. Substantial sectors of our global economy are designed, dedicated, and depend on creating and supporting technologies that feed our hunger for inquiries and answers, our need-to-know, 24/7/365.
Individually, we spend enormous quantities of time typing queries into search engines, finding out the latest news on our web-enabled PDA, and keeping current by cell phone.
In our various roles as leader-at work, at school, in our communities, even at home-we experiment, take risks, listen to diverse points of view, ask "what can we learn," when things do not go as expected, and search outside the formal boundaries of our organization for innovative ways to improve what we do.
The data suggests that our curiosity is overwhelmingly focused on uncovering the answers to what is "out there."
But what about what is "in here?"
When was the last time you allowed yourself the time and the space to be curious about you? When did you last apply the same energy and determination with which you pursue answers to what is "out there" to the questions about what is "in here": Who am I? What do I stand for? What do I fundamentally believe about the meaning of our work, and the direction in which we are headed?
If your honest answer to the question is something along the lines: "I don't do this, or at least not very much," or "I'm not sure," or "I've got a vague idea," or "I'd like to find out more," you are in good company.
And that is why we devote the entire first day of the two-day The Leadership Challenge® Workshop to an exploration of leader. Leadership is, first and foremost, an internal exploration of who you are. With that foundation, we can then examine and fine-tune what you do.
The first of the three prerequisites for a meaningful exploration of leadership is that you be curious—curious not about what is "out there," but curious about who is "in here."
Peter Alduino is President and Founder of Bridge Group Communications, LLC, a San Francisco Bay-Area based leadership-consulting practice providing comprehensive leadership development seminars. Author of The Citizen Leader™ Seminars, and a Master Facilitator for The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, he can be reached at email@example.com.
Given the many resources and training strategies in today's marketplace, we are challenged to better understand the differences between all these various resources. Gaining clarity around what each has to offer will help us determine which tool to apply to a given situation to more effectively achieve our desired outcomes and goals.
Currently, one of the more popular tools used in a variety of training initiatives is The Gallup Organization's StrengthsFinder. As described in a recent article provided by the Career Planning and Adult Development Network, "StrengthsFinder is a talent assessment instrument developed expressly for the Internet. It is built upon three primary discoveries that resulted from decades of research of successful human beings. Skills can be learned, and knowledge can be obtained. However, talent—the key to strength and peak performance - must exist naturally within a person. A talent is a naturally recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied. Talents are spontaneous, top-of-mind, perhaps even subconscious reactions to situations…what one does well "without even thinking about it." They are innate, non-teachable.
Based on 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes, the StrengthsFinder instrument presents 180 paired-choice comparisons in sets that present two potential self-descriptors-each anchoring polar ends of a continuum. Using online connectivity that is fully secure and easy to use, participants are prompted to choose from each pair the statement that best describes them, and the extent to which that chosen option is self-descriptive. Participants are given 20 seconds to respond to a given item before the system moves on.
For those interested in finding their best "fit" among the possible organizational roles and positions, the StrengthsFinder instrument is a great tool. Gaining talent clarity allows us to pursue roles and positions that are best suited to our innate talents, and can offer the greatest opportunity to achieve superior performance and personal satisfaction. With talents, we are not trying to develop anything new; we are simply working to become more aware of what is already there.
So, what about the position or role of leading others?
Different than the StrengthsFinder model, The Leadership Challenge discusses a role that transcends any specific position in an organization: the role or position of a strong leader that demonstrates leadership in the eyes of others.
The 25 years of academic evidence collected and reported on by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner suggests it is possible for anyone-independent of role or talent-to become a better leader, developing our abilities to influence others to achieve extraordinary results. In their best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner identify The Five Leadership Practices®—Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart—as five behavior sets we can develop and enhance with practice.
In over 13 years of applying and practicing the principles of The Leadership Challenge with people and organizations, I have also become convinced that leadership is a learnable behavior set, if three things happen:
So, if the goal is to increase awareness of innate strengths and talents, the Stengthsfinder is a great resource. With this information we can pursue positions and roles that will enable us to do what we like to do, and will potentially be the best at doing.
On the other hand, if the goal is to develop our skills and abilities in influencing others to achieve extraordinary outcomes, The Leadership Challenge is the very best resource in the market today as a comprehensive set of tools for succeeding in our roles as leaders and demonstrating higher leadership levels.
Craig Haponstall is president and CEO of Leadership Mechanics, LLC and a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. An experienced and results-oriented speaker and coach whose corporate career has included positions with Southwest Airlines and The Tom Peters Company, he can be reached at www.leadershipmechanics.com
I recently had the privilege of attending the graduation ceremony for the class of 2009 at Jefferson Medical College. About 250 students were awarded diplomas and granted the right to practice medicine. Each of them, no doubt, felt a great sense of pride and joy (and relief) when they heard the title "doctor" affixed to their names, as they were called on stage to receive their diplomas and sashes.
While most medical school graduation ceremonies follow a fairly standard format I suppose, to my surprise there was one part of this program that moved me in a most unexpected way: the final assignment these graduates had to complete before officially becoming doctors was to publicly recite the Oath of Hippocrates. Led by the calming and mellow voice of one of the faculty, they concluded their vow and, at long last, became welcomed members of a wonderful and truly respected profession. And even though they do not remember all the words, new doctors know the oath exists and what it stands for.
The Hippocratic Oath is often casually summarized by non-medical types as "do no harm." Yet, nowhere in the actual text do those three words appear. There are some other remarkable words, however, that spell out the standards of behavior and personal commitment expected of doctors. In fact, it was the Oath's closing line that truly grabbed me: "These things I do promise upon my honor." What a powerful statement that was for me. It was the notion of honor that was so inspiring. Yet almost immediately after hearing it, I must sadly admit that the first thought that popped into my head was, "what has happened to it?"
Current State of Honor
I recently worked with a group of Army personnel plus others from a state law enforcement agency. Based on their words and behaviors, it is clear that honor is still of supreme importance in both organizations. But outside of these examples, one could easily make a case that honor has been replaced by greed, self interest, or perhaps even the convenience of taking the easy road, especially if the honorable road is too hard. I began to wonder, how much better off might we be if we knew that everyone truly valued honor, and that it would never be compromised? Might our current circumstances be different if other professions were bound by an oath of excellence, based on honor?
Early in the Hippocratic Oath, a doctor solemnly swears that "into whatsoever house I shall enter, it shall be for the good of the sick to the utmost of my power." In the very next statement doctors pledge to keep themselves "from wrong, from corruption, from the tempting of others to vice." Can this be said of other professions today? Pick any one you like. Is the perception that the AIGs of the world, or lawyers, politicians, or journalists have pledged to keep themselves from the temptations of wrong, corruption, or vice? It seems to me that the relentless forces of the Dark Side are especially strong these days.
Whom Do We Trust
The cynics will certainly shout out that doctors fall off the wagon as well. And that is true. However in a number of various survey findings related to trust, doctors as a profession are usually rated toward the top. Business leaders, government, attorneys, and media types are usually toward the bottom. There are, of course, many individuals in each of these professions who do value honor and attempt to live by it. But there are certainly plenty of examples of those that don't and the havoc they create.
So what do you think? When you reflect on honor in a profession, where do doctors rank for you? How about when you look beyond medicine? Do you see much evidence that in our current world—anywhere— honor is considered important anymore? How about when you look within yourself? Just how important is it to you? In your work today, is there anything you are willing to promise, upon your honor?
The Impact of an Oath
I have no idea how much difference the Hippocratic Oath actually makes, if any. My guess is that not many graduating medical school students remember more than a handful of the words, let alone could they talk in detail about it. But they do know it is there. They know they have something that defines the ideals and values of their profession. They know that it is not just a collection of words on a plaque but is, in fact, a definition of the kind of person they are expected to be in order to be called "Doctor." And they have pledged their commitment to it.
Who knows? Maybe if every so often brokers or executives, lobbyists or politicians, or the rest of us for that matter had to publicly promise, upon our honor, that "my work shall be for the good to the utmost of my power," the world might be a less troubled, more trusting place. It certainly would do no harm.
Personally, I hope that honor is not a tired ideal of the past. But even if you are not part of a profession or organization that is guided by a publicly declared promise of honor, you can still choose to live your life by that same noble standard. You can choose to turn away from the seductive temptations of wrong, corruption, and vice, and instead be a role model of acting with honor, in everything you do, on and off the job. That would most assuredly make the world a better place.
Steve Coats, a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Master Facilitator, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers around the world in leadership development, team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
On January 24, 2009, at St. George's University in Grenada, keynote speaker Brenda Stutsky welcomed a new class of students into the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program—only the second class in the University's history—by encouraging the 26 young men and women to begin their education as leaders. Drawing upon the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® and The Leadership Challenge model, she challenged her audience to incorporate these essential principles of leadership into their education and professional careers, noting that if they do, "I know you will be a nursing leader throughout your educational program and your nursing career."
Grounded in the belief that while many prominent leaders may have helped guide the way for these new students, Ms. Stutsky suggested that each individual was poised on that day to begin to lead nursing into the future. And to help them on this new path, she went on to outline how each young person in the audience could exemplify the Five Practices:
"Going first and setting an example, educating yourself, and doing what you say you will do, are examples of how you Model the Way…As you are only the second class to begin your nursing education at St. George's University, you will always be regarded as the ones who modeled the way. So make sure that you share your stories of being a nursing student with your sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews. Set an example for them, and let them know that with hard work and determination anything is possible.
To Inspire a Shared Vision, you begin by imagining what could be, by dreaming and creating something no one else has created. As students in a new nursing program, you are in an ideal position to establish a vision for your student body and this nursing program. Maybe your collective vision for this program is to be internationally recognized for producing extraordinary nursing graduates who are able to provide exemplary patient care not only here in Grenada, but around the world. I want my colleagues in Canada to know about you! Many know about your Medical program, but they don't know you have started a Nursing program. How are you as a student body going to become internationally recognized? Start with small steps. I think one of the first things you have to do is to let the international nursing student community know that you exist. Maybe you do that by starting your own student body Web site or wiki to share your own knowledge and stories with each other. Maybe you then ask nursing students in neighboring Caribbean countries to join in. Maybe your student body president attends a nursing conference in the Unites States, England, Africa, or Canada, and shares your concept of an online community of learning for nursing students in the Caribbean. Nurses in other countries love the idea and join your online community, sharing their own expertise, knowledge, and stories. However you decide to inspire a shared vision, start small but dream big, and follow that dream.
Kouzes and Posner say you must always ask, "Why are we doing it this way?" Since you will be one of the first students to complete the newly established courses, your faculty will rely on you to provide constructive feedback that will continually shape the nursing curriculum. Your clinical practice as students here in Grenada and other countries will challenge not only your own nursing skills and knowledge. It will be expected that you will challenge and question policies, procedures, and practices based on current evidence-based knowledge…Leaders take risks. And although risks can sometimes result in failure, we learn from our mistakes and continue to Challenge the Process.
With Enable Others to Act, Kouzes and Posner equate leadership with team effort. They also say that it is very easy to identify a true leader by how many times a leader says "We" as opposed to "I." It is impossible to provide quality patient care without working as a team, for each healthcare professional and discipline adds their piece to the complex puzzle. Learn about your role as a nurse and how you can support your healthcare team, and in return, you will get the support that you need.
Encouraging the Heart of your fellow nursing students is extremely important. This is going to be a very demanding time in your lives, and you will need to make sacrifices to be successful. It is without question that you will need the support of your family…but you also need the support of your fellow students. Providing positive feedback and ongoing encouragement to your fellow nursing students is crucial, as there will be many fun and wonderful stories that you will be able to tell for years to come. But there will also be tough and challenging times and you will need that "pat on the back" or that shoulder to cry on from someone who can really understand what you are going through…Your faculty also needs an encouraging word along the way, so don't forget to tell them when they did a great job, when they helped you understand a difficult concept, or when they helped you get through a challenging clinical day.
…In closing, I wish to show you the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper from Wednesday morning that shows Barak Obama as he became the 44th president of the United States, and the first African-American president in history. The headline reads, "A Dream Fulfilled!" You have much in common with the new president: you both have a dream that is coming true; you are both leaders; and you are both starting to write a new chapter in your life story."
A published summary of Brenda Stutsky's keynote address and a copy of the complete, unedited text are available at the St. George's University website.
Brenda Stutsky is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Manitoba and Director, Nursing Education at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, a major tertiary hospital in Canada employing approximately 7,000 health professionals and support staff. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Like many of you, I cannot get through the day without hearing something about employee engagement. It has become the strategy-du-jour for many organizations, with plenty of classes, surveys, and metrics supporting the effort. And there are plenty of firms, large and small, now very active in this arena.
So where are you on this topic? Is employee engagement a vital issue for organizations, or more of an interesting but mostly overhyped notion like so many before it? My advice? It would be wise for you to pay attention because this issue significantly impacts your success—both now and in the future.
One factor of success on which almost everyone agrees is the need to have the right people in the right jobs. Many companies today are spending a great deal of time and effort trying to identify and further develop their key talent so they will have the best people in those important jobs. Although definitions vary, these are the people identified as future leaders of the organization, and those who clearly need to be "on the bus."
There should be no question that developing key talent is a major source of sustainable competitive advantage for everyone. But are they really on board?
Current State of Engagement
Consider these recent findings from Watson Wyatt Worldwide that seem to suggest that there has been a "disturbance in the force" with key talent. The results uncovered the percentage of top talent who:
Would recommend their organization to others: Down 20%
Are satisfied with advancement opportunities: Down 26%
Want to remain with their firm: Down 14%
Believe management has the ability to grow the business: Down 29%
And one last, most interesting finding:
The overall level of engagement of top talent: Down 25%
If you feel inclined to dismiss these findings since they are representative of only one study, I encourage you to look closely at other current research on the topic and you will see similar trends and conclusions from a number of recognized experts in the field.
What Is the Potential Impact?
Convinced yet or not, the meaty question for you to answer is this: what if these findings are indeed accurate? And to take the question even further: What if your own top talent is, in fact, becoming less engaged in and committed to your future? What if your solid contributors, who are not yet prized as key talent, are following suit? Should this be of concern to you?
Let's add another pertinent and perhaps troubling trend to this discussion. There are more and more warning signs indicating that as the economy begins to pull out of its tailspin, many of the top players are going to start making moves to other organizations. Think about it – if you have not done much of anything to keep talented people engaged during the tough times, why would you expect them to want to stay with you when new opportunities open up elsewhere? The reality may be that when you most need a pool of capable people ready to capitalize on and advance your own new growth opportunities, they are no longer there. Forget about the wasted investment on those who have left, or the excessive costs of recruiting, hiring and training new people. What is the long-term cost of being forced to remain idle, when your competitors are rapidly moving forward with renewed vigor from their highly talented, devoted and engaged associates? Chances are good that your recession has just been extended.
The Leadership Factor
Keeping people engaged is more than a series of activities; it is an important leadership issue. From a leader's perspective, engagement requires you to think carefully about the relationships you build with other people and the decisions you make that affect them. On the relationship side, there are many actions you can take to maintain and even increase commitment. The end game is to ensure that people continue to be passionate about, and have their full hearts into, their work. Letting people know that you value their contributions, providing them challenging growth opportunities, recognizing them, listening to them - these are but a sample of behaviors you must demonstrate as a leader.
For people to remain engaged, especially top talent, they must be led—not just managed. So do not make the mistake of directing all of your energy into determining the very best survey to use to collect data about everyone's level of engagement, while completely disregarding the need to get their feedback on how well you are actually leading them. Remember that your leadership is one of the biggest factors that influence whether others feel engaged or not, and whether they will choose to stay in the long run.
Also be mindful of the decisions you and others make and the messages you send throughout the organization. Just recently, news about the sudden resignation of a highly admired top performing leader hit the hallways of a particular organization. This person's boss, a senior leader, is silently feared and even despised by a growing number of highly regarded people due to his deceitful, oppressive behaviors. And key direct reports who do not submit are soon sent packing. In the minds of many, executive management has chosen to ignore their core values and tolerate this behavior. Do you think this will cause other highly talented people to at least question whether this organization is really the place for them? Your decisions, what you do—and do not do—influence the commitment level of your people in ways you may not fully understand. You must be aware of the kind of fallout which inevitably occurs from situations such as the one just described.
At the present time, many organizations still find themselves in difficult times. This is one of those periods where a number of people, including key talent, are thankful just to have a job. Levels of uncertainty and fear are high, which has led to more hesitancy in risk taking, and more self-imposed pressure to not screw up. When times are tough and jobs are scarce, associates often feel personally vulnerable and much more dependent upon their organizations. It is in this kind of circumstance, when the true leader you are will be most clearly demonstrated.
Leadership Is a Choice
You can choose to take advantage of the situation and exploit your associates: frequently reminding them they are on thin ice and preying upon their job insecurities is one way to get them to buckle down even more. You can capriciously impose higher objectives, force them to work longer hours, and likely disregard many of their needs. After all, they no doubt feel at least somewhat indebted for the chance to still be working and will do whatever it takes to remain on the payroll. Right? Logically, there is really no need to waste time or effort on keeping people more engaged. They will comply, because they have to.
On the other hand, you can make different choice. In spite of the fact that the organization may currently have more leverage, you as a leader can still choose to inspire others, to appreciate and encourage them, to challenge and test them, and to let them know how vital they are to the future success of the enterprise. You can choose to work at increasing their levels of engagement and bonds of commitment.
Leaders know that when it comes to results, commitment trumps compliance. Committed people outperform those who are merely following orders. As the less engaged remain primarily focused on self-preservation, highly engaged and committed people are also deeply invested in helping the entire organization remain successful. And it is your engaged talent that is going to be the best source of the innovative ideas and solutions that will be essential for your organization to rebound.
One of the chief responsibilities of a leader is to build an organization that prospers over time. Growth and prosperity require capable and committed people in the right positions, for today and tomorrow. And there is no better time to be taking a close look at and gathering feedback on the engagement/commitment issue from all of your people, including those you have identified as top talent. Then you must step up as a leader and commit yourself to strengthen their capabilities and buy-in, instead of creating compliance or even animosity.
Regardless of whether you define engagement in a three- or four-piece pie chart or survey associates with a twelve question inventory, you will discover that a real boost in engagement ultimately requires more effective leadership: better ways to interact with individuals and continuous work on creating a more desirable overall environment, if you intend to positively change associates' perceptions and performance levels so they want to stay on your bus. Engagement is much more than popular organization-wide labels, revised performance management categories, and new strategic initiatives. It is personal.
The kind of leadership you demonstrate in today's tough times will long be remembered, especially as overall market conditions improve and external opportunities become more prevalent for your identified stars. Think carefully about the memory you are most likely creating for others through your actions right now.
Steve Coats, a Leadership Challenge® Certified Master, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and managers around the world in leadership development, team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the key skills that leaders need to develop to survive in the future? Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future (IFTF)—an independent, nonprofit think tank—believes that in a world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (what he calls VUCA), leaders must learn new skills in order to make a better future. And key among those new skills, Johansen identifies, is the ability to "see through messes and contradictions" to a future that others cannot yet see.1
As we know from Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, leadership is about encouraging and inspiring others to envision the future by "painting a picture" of exciting possibilities. People don't often admit that they are an artist or extremely creative. Yet, these talents are demonstrated by highly effective leaders in their every day activities when they see through messes and contradictions, painting a picture that excites and inspires.
Another key skill of the future leader that Johansen identifies is "commons creating": the ability to stimulate, grow, and nurture shared assets that can benefit other players. Looking at Johansen's notion of "commons creating" though the lens of The Five Practices model, we see Enabling Others to Act. In the future, leaders will need to develop competence, build confidence, and invest in strengthening the capacity of individuals and organizations-more than ever before—even though Enabling Others to Act may look a bit different for future leaders because of the tools available. As leaders, we can create social change networks, organize smart mobs, and use our advanced electronic and media tools to foster collaboration and strengthen others.
No matter how we paint pictures or create commons, as leaders we need to be more overt: let our constituents see and benefit from these skills. For example, when interviewing past participants of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, we asked how they were influenced by The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. One leader, remarking on the practice, Inspire a Shared Vision, replied "It wasn't so much that I didn't have leadership qualities. It was that I wasn't putting them out there for others to see." She realized that "It's really about what's inside of you and people follow you because you exhibit those qualities that they feel are 'follow-able'."
For more insight from interviewees, visit http://sonomaleadership.com/about/client-results/. Hear more about the ways in which leaders are using the model of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® to paint pictures, see through messes, and create commons.
1Adapted from Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World (2009), Bob Johansen
Jeni Nichols is Queen of Connections at Sonoma Leadership Systems, a leading provider of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, training, and materials. Pat Schally is Sales Consultant, Sonoma Leadership Systems, and editor of The Leader's Almanac. For more information on upcoming public workshops, visit http://sonomaleadership.com/tlc-workshops/
We shared the platform with renowned leadership educator Ken Blanchard at an association meeting. In the middle of responding to an audience question one of us was saying, "I don't know what you call something that's been the same for twenty-five years, but...," and Ken interrupted, exclaiming, "I'd call it the truth."
It was a moment of clarity. We began to see that we shouldn't be shy about saying that some things about leadership just don't change that much over time, if at all, and that those things need to be understood for what they are—the truth.
While context changes, while global and personal circumstances change, the fundamentals of leadership do not. We thought it was just as important in these changing times to remind people of what endures as it was to talk about what has been disrupted.
We wanted to make certain that the lessons we included not only withstood the test of time but also withstood the scrutiny of statistics. So we sifted through the reams of data that had piled up over three decades and isolated those nuggets that were soundly supported by the numbers. This is a collection of the real thing—no fads, no myths, no trendy responses—just truths that endure.
This book reveals the most important things that we've learned since we began our collaboration. It's a collection of fundamental principles that inform and support the practices of leadership. These are lessons that were true thirty years ago, are true today, and we believe will be true thirty years from now. They speak to what the newest and youngest leaders need to appreciate and understand, and they speak just as meaningfully to the oldest leaders, who are perhaps re-purposing themselves as they transition from their lengthy careers to other pursuits in volunteer, community, or public sectors. Entrepreneurs need to appreciate what we have learned, just as do people leading established enterprises.
These lessons ring true on athletic fields and in the halls of government, and they make as much sense in the United States, China, Brazil, the European Union, India, or any other global address that you can imagine.
This isn't a "How To" or "Made Easy" or "For Dummies" approach to leadership—it is a book about fundamentals. And fundamentals are the necessary building blocks to greatness. You can't fast-track your way to excellence. Leadership is a demanding, noble discipline not to be entered into frivolously or casually. It requires an elevated sense of mastery. And, you can do it. It's a matter of technique, of skill, of practice. It's also a matter of desire and commitment.
There are enduring truths about leadership. You can gain mastery over the art and science of leadership by understanding them and attending to them in your workplace and everyday life.
Excerpted from The Truth About Leadership, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Jossey-Bass Publishers, August 2010
Leaders today are facing the most complicated workforce in history. For the first time, four generations are working side-by-side, each at different life stages and each with conflicting needs. The members of each group have largely been shaped by the social and economic events that occurred during their lifetimes. And when it comes to jobs and leaders, each group comes to the workplace with different perspectives and expectations.
Adding to the complexity that a generationally diverse workforce creates is the rapid growth of ethnic and cultural workers in America. Leaders today are discovering that they must learn new skills: strong human relations, communications, and diversity skills and knowledge are essential. They must know how to motivate and inspire in order to get work done and create success for the organization, for themselves, and for their team.
Leading within this complex environment can be challenging and rewarding, with plenty of opportunity to capitalize on diverse ideas and work styles that bring innovation to the organization. To succeed, great leaders will need to learn to tap into the resources of this multigenerational and multicultural workforce, handle misunderstandings and misperceptions effectively, and leverage the varied talents and worldviews of each and every employee.
While there may be all types of differences in needs, perspectives, and expectations—between and among generations and cultures—there are several strategies that flow from The Five Practices model that leaders can employ. Together, these approaches can help create an environment that will engage employees, enhance their talents, and maximize productivity:
Keep in mind that the best strategy for leading others—whether employees, peers, or volunteers—is to know each person as an individual! Avoid stereotyping and making assumptions. Leadership is all about relationships. The deeper your relationship, the more effective you will be at knowing how to communicate, coach, motivate, challenge, and guide every individual to be the best they can be.
Mary Cooper is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® and president of Engaging Outcomes, an Orlando-based training and consulting firm focused on guiding leaders and organizations in leaving a legacy. Former consultant for the Disney Institute and co-author of The Voice of Leadership, she can be contacted at mcooper@EngagingOutcomes.com.
In a meeting earlier this year with a senior leadership team of a client company, our collective group was discussing how the practice Inspire a Shared Vision provides hope to people in the most challenging times. The idea appeared to be an appropriate, logical assumption. But as we transitioned into a related topic, the CEO stopped us and asked what we meant by 'hope'. Did we mean that we were "hoping we would meet our targets," and "hoping that the company didn't lose money?" If so, we needed action and engagement—not hope—to meet the company's needs.
This was an excellent question (though I have to admit, I thought "Haven't you heard Obama speak about HOPE? That's what we're talking about!") Clarity came, however, when my partner, Jo Bell, observed that we were focusing on 'hope' as a noun, not a verb. We are not simply hoping that things change in the environment. Leaders act and inspire hope in others and engage them in the future success of the company.
Taking this lesson from the challenges our singular client company was facing and applying it more universally, inspiring hope in others is critical for ALL leaders. This is especially true as companies experience difficulties that are a result of our current economic turmoil, and have had to make difficult decisions about the business they are in or the staff that they can support.
Challenging times like these are the most difficult in which to lead. However, in this environment, it is even more critical that leaders inspire people to give their best. Inspiring a shared vision amid layoffs, downsizing, and radical changes in the way we do business is tough. But as Jim and Barry often say, "that's why it's the Leadership CHALLENGE, and not the Leadership Cakewalk."
Many of the leaders we work with tell us that Inspire a Shared Vision is their most difficult leadership Practice (indeed, it is the lowest ranked Practice across leaders)—especially in the current environment. But the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) can provide a clue to how the best leaders Inspire a Shared Vision in even the toughest times. It provides actions you can take as a leader to become more inspiring and to engage those around you.
First, let's take a look at some of the key leadership behaviors that define this Practice.
#7: Describes a compelling image of the future
#12: Appeals to others to share dream of the future
#17: Shows others how their interests can be realized
Many leaders find these behaviors difficult, but for different reasons. Some do not see them as part of their role (it's someone else's responsibility). Others are not naturally visual learners, so have a hard time visualizing the future.
In our coaching work with leaders, we have found that two other easily actionable LPI behaviors can influence a leader's ability to Inspire a Shared Vision. When leaders focus on these behaviors, their scores in this Practice (and, indeed, their ability to Inspire) show an increase. These are:
#26: Is clear about his/her philosophy of leadership
#27: Speaks with conviction about the meaning of work
* The Leadership Challenge, 4th edition, pages 69-70
When you have answers to these questions, think about how that translates to your leadership philosophy. Write out a philosophy and begin to share it with others. This doesn't necessarily mean you state that you want to share your philosophy, but rather that you begin to talk about what really matters to you, what you believe about your people and your work.
Speaking with Conviction about the Meaning of Work
Creating a philosophy of leadership leads to the second leadership behavior that can influence your ability to inspire: to speak with conviction about the meaning of your work. Though you may have difficulty predicting exactly what the future will look like for your organization or department, if you talk about the meaning of your work, you can continue to inspire others. Ask yourself these questions:
These may be difficult changes in "the way we've always done things," and it may take a while for people to catch on to this new "enthusiasm." But our leadership challenge today is to help bring hope to others. If we can challenge ourselves to step into uncomfortable territory, we lead the way for others and can inspire and engage the best.
This is my hope for you!
Renee Harness is Managing Partner at Third Eye Leadership, where she is engaged in corporate culture change. She also is part of The Leadership Challenge Master Facilitator Network and has played key roles in implementing The Leadership Challenge at companies in financial services, healthcare and manufacturing. She can be reached at email@example.com.
For years, we've operated under the myth that leaders ought to be cool, aloof, and analytical; they ought to separate emotion from work. We're told that real leaders don't need love, affection, and friendship. "It's not a popularity contest" is a phrase we've all heard often: "I don't care if people like me. I just want them to respect me."
Tony Codianni, director of the Training and Dealer Development Group for Toshiba America Information Systems, told us that "Encouraging the Heart is the most important leadership practice, because it's the most personal." Tony believes leadership is all about people, and if you're going to lead people you have to care about them.
The Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs has studied the process of executive selection, and their results support Tony's observation.
Of the following three factors from the FIRO-B*—an assessment developed by Will
Schutz to measure interpersonal relationships—which one do you think distinguished the highest-performing from the lowest-performing managers, according to their research?
The Center for Creative Leadership found that the single factor that differentiated the top from the bottom was higher scores on affection. Contrary to the myth of the cold-hearted boss who cares little about people's feelings, the highest-performing managers show more warmth and fondness toward others than do the bottom 25 percent. They get closer to people, and they're significantly more open in sharing thoughts and feelings than their lower-performing counterparts.
In other words, the best leaders want to be liked, and they want openness from other people. Not caring how others feel and think about what we do and say is an attitude for losers (and very self-centered and aloof or out-of-touch individuals)—an attitude that can only lead to less and less effectiveness. The evidence tells us that expressing affection is important to success, and we all need it. In fact, too many people have a secret they're afraid to reveal because it might make them look soft or wimpy. We all really do want to be loved.
When we interviewed former chief executive officer and current venture capitalist Irwin Federman, his remarks foreshadowed what we now know from the data. He spoke an important truth about the chemistry that exists between great leaders and those who follow them. He spoke of love as a necessary ingredient, one that is rarely appreciated, in part because we underrate the role of our feelings:
You don't love someone because of who they are; you love them because of the way they make you feel. This axiom applies equally in a company setting. It may seem inappropriate to use words such as love and affection in relation to business. Conventional wisdom has it that management is not a popularity contest. . . . I contend, however, that all things being equal, we will work harder and more effectively for people we like. And we will like them in direct proportion to how they make us feel.
When we wrote our book, Encouraging the Heart, we asked people to identify the most important non-financial reward they could receive at work. What response do you think they gave?
You might be surprised to learn that the most common answer was, "A simple thank-you."
Author Gerald H. Graham reports that personal congratulations rank at the top of the most powerful non-financial motivators identified by employees. Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter reports that in the most innovative companies there is a significantly higher volume of thank-yous than in companies of low innovation.
*The FIRO-B measures two dimensions of three factors: the extent to which a person both expresses and wants (1) inclusion, (2) control, and (3) affection. See W. Schutz, The Human Element: Productivity, Self-Esteem, and the Bottom Line. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1994.
It's Not Easy to Encourage the Heart
Supporting others, particularly in times of great change, can be physically and emotionally draining. We have learned that Encourage the Heart is one of the most difficult of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. We've found that it's much easier for leaders to Challenge the Process, for example, than it is for them to Encourage the Heart.
But the seven essentials of Encouraging the Heart are core leadership skills. They are not just about showing people they can win for the sake of making them feel good. When striving to raise quality, recover from disaster, start up a new service, or make dramatic change of any kind, leaders must make sure that people experience in their hearts that what they do matters.
It is encouraging to come across people who are enthused about the subject of leadership and are seeking to improve their capabilities as a leader. With overwhelming schedules, many don't want to over-commit so they will proclaim their intention with something safe like, "I just want to be a better leader tomorrow than I am today." They might even go so far as to acknowledge the skills or behaviors they are committed to working on. Sounds promising, doesn't it?
Yet, we all know how much harder it is to develop ourselves than it is to merely utter a profound statement of intention. As one who is devoted to helping others make progress as leaders, I like to follow up such clichéd pronouncements with my favorite question: "Tell me one thing you have done today that has made you better as a leader than you were yesterday." As you might expect, the most common response is a blank stare.
It takes more than reciting an aspirational goals to get better. While it's easy to talk about development and the need for small, even daily, improvements, it's just not so easy to follow through. Nietzsche once wrote, "The most common sort of lie is the one uttered to oneself." Have you ever tried to trick yourself and others into thinking that you are taking steps to grow, when you know deep down all you are really doing is talking about it? My hand is raised.
I like to suggest to others a simple and memorable little model: Plan, Practice, Polish and Perform. (Ah yes, another clever series of words that all begin with the same letter!) Use whatever words you like, but here are a few key things to remember:
Getting better at anything takes practice. It is through practice that you test, tinker, make mistakes, learn and, ultimately, polish your skills. This ongoing practicing and polishing equips you to perform at your best when called upon to do so.
Don't forget, however, that practice seldom occurs unless you plan it. You likely have too many things on your plate today, so you must make a commitment to set aside specific time — and honor that commitment — if you expect to follow through. From taking music lessons or playing sports as a kid, you know that if the practice times had not been set up in advance, something else would have squeezed them out. Unless you plan, you will find your daily life feels like an endless series of interruptions, all of which are high priority. And we wonder why so many of us feel overwhelmed!
So, if you want to be better tomorrow than today start working on it right now. Plan how you can continually make progress. Then follow through on what you can do to turn boring meetings into productive planning sessions, listen more carefully to the "hard to express" needs of individuals, constantly clarify your messages so they are better understood, and improve in the many other areas in which followers and colleagues are counting on your leadership.
That trusted friend DWYSYWD (do what you say you will do) will serve you well. Don't let well-intentioned words be a substitute for the real work that needs to be done.
Steve Coats, a Leadership Challenge® Certified Master, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's not often I am able to share the realization of a personal-best dream. But having recently returned from Japan, I am happy to say that at least two of my most passionate, long-time dreams have become reality.
For many years, I've yearned to bring the power of The Leadership Challenge to Japan and facilitate learning of The Five Practices model. And thanks to the generosity and The Personal Best Leadership Challenge of our colleague, Hiroshi Watanabe, I joined a team of leadership experts to participate in the first-ever The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and facilitation training events, held in Tokyo, February 3-4, 2011.
Watanabe San began championing this endeavor over 12 years ago and has worked diligently ever since to finally realize this goal. Reflecting on the extraordinary experience I personally had during my time in Japan, I also find myself reflecting on the exemplary leadership he demonstrated in making this event happen. As you might expect of any complete Personal Best leadership experience, his efforts over the years offer a wonderful example of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® in action.
Model the Way: Watanabe San has a burning passion for leadership development. He is fully committed to the value it can deliver and, more specifically, has literally digested each and every word of The Leadership Challenge. He labored countless hours over the years. His dedication is so strong. Even with the passing of his dear mother, and her services the day prior to the workshop, he continued to be there to fully support both me and the program—without hesitation.
Inspire a Shared Vision: While Watanabe San champions the vision of The Leadership Challenge across Japan, the interest in workshops and learning has begun to cross borders, languages, and cultures—with inquiries already coming from Korea, China and beyond! It is rare indeed for a single person, as a practitioner and advocate of The Leadership Challenge, to impact an entire nation—much less multiple nations. But Watanabe San's burning passion has sparked the passion for greatness in others and to the idea of The Leadership Challenge for all of Japan.
Challenge the Process: The initial workshop represented a fine example of a Leadership Journey! The first time we do anything it is a learning experience: there are experiments as well as mistakes to make, and small wins all along the way. Of course there was a certain amount of fear and anxiety prior to the first session. Would it be successful? How would it be received? As a first time facilitator in Japan, I certainly made some mistakes in my delivery on that first day. But thanks to the help and support I received from Watanabe San, Nakajima San, and Konda San, I was able to make day two and the facilitation training events kaizen.
Enable Others to Act: The workshop and facilitation training events were a complete team success! The Japanese Management Association (JMA) and Right Management teams, translators, and meeting hosts worked incredibly well together and created ideal models of teamwork for the program participants to view and follow. Specifically, within these stellar teams, there are some specific individuals that truly stood out for their outstanding leadership:
Konda San, JMA’s General Manager, worked tirelessly to make certain that every program detail was taken into account and all logistics came together smoothly. His efforts and long hours of dedicated focus resulted in the finest example of a TLC open enrollment program imaginable. Nakajima San is a Senior Expert with JMA and a noted expert in leadership behavior. On multiple occasions throughout the two-day events, he stepped forward and demonstrated acts of leadership that only come from a master. His ability to bravely model behavior outside the parameters of "The Japanese Way" provided hope and inspiration for the other, less-advanced program participants.
Members of the Right Management team also were consistent in modeling how a leader can and should openly question, in order to better understand. I am thankful they were in attendance.
Encourage the Heart: The workshop closing was perhaps the finest of all of the Encourage the Heart examples I experienced during my time in Japan. As a celebratory ending, imagine the 31 program participants—including the session translators and JMA support team members—all standing in a big circle, holding hands, and doing the WAVE! Fantastic, high energy, and cohesive, it was one of the most moving workshop celebrations I've experienced, and perhaps a bit surprising, it was created by one of the groups with all Japanese participants.
This unique event is not the end of the story but rather a major milestone along the way in Watanabe San's Vision. The journey will continue, and many more learnings are sure to be had along the way. I am honored to have been a part of this amazing experience that will remain an important part of the rest of my life.
Postscript: Now, more than ever, the citizens of Japan need The Leadership Challenge! While there is tremendous hardship and challenge, there is also great opportunity for a positive future. I am confident that Japan's leaders will be the ones to initiate this journey of potential and possibility, and I wish them courage and strength as they travel toward a realized recovery from their most recent disaster.
I find it rather unusual that far fewer articles addressing the practice Enabling Others To Act appear in The Leadership Challenge e-Newsletter compared to the others. Especially in light of the environmental complexity in which leaders must operate today, this practice is critical to a leader's success. No leader can survive long term without a team of colleagues working together to take advantage of all the opportunities and to resolve all the challenges they face. Exemplary leaders know they don't go it alone and key to this practice is when they are able to create an environment in which colleagues do their best—not because they have to, but because they want to.
Inspiring commitment is critical. Anyone with power can command commitment. A leader, however, inspires commitment. And creating and nurturing that kind of commitment is possible when a few key leadership activities are practiced and mastered. As part of a Leadership Challenge Workshop® for healthcare executives I conducted recently, I offered the following as a roadmap:
1. Care. Colleagues who know they are cared for often return the favor with greater commitment to a leader's vision. On the other hand, when followers don't feel a leader cares about them, they won't care much either. Make sure you openly demonstrate a caring attitude—to all employees at every level—so you are completely confident that everyone knows you care. Your teammates and co-workers will commit to making sure you don't fail as long as they know they are cared for first.
2. Create ownership. Closely tied to the second practice of Inspiring a Shared Vision, commitment can be enhanced if people believe the leader's vision is also their own. Make sure employees have a say in how the work should be accomplished. Explaining each colleague's role in the job at hand enhances commitment, and lets everyone know the importance of their individual contribution to the final product. When colleagues clearly understand their purpose/role in the endeavor, they are more likely to make a greater commitment to the job.
3. Ensure security. Commitment can be enhanced when people feel secure. If co-workers know taking prudent risks won't be punished, they tend to give more freely the talent and effort it takes to get the job done. If yours is a "zero defects" organization, on the other hand, they hold back, often reluctant to give 100%. Colleagues who know you "have their backs" are more likely to extend the envelope of knowledge and take the calculated risks so often required for organizations to be successful today.
4. Practice accountability for everyone...including you! Colleague commitment and accountability are closely related. When everyone knows that each individual will be held to a certain level of accountability, commitment is often enhanced. A culture of accountability encourages teamwork, reciprocity, and a willingness to cover for each other. When colleagues realize that as a team everyone's contributions are important, knowledge gets shared, confidence increases, and everybody wins.
Leaders who Enable Others to Act spread their influence far beyond their physical sphere. Committed colleagues reflect their leader's vision and persona. They act in your best interests because they are committed to the same things you are.
Jody R. Rogers, Ph.D., is a Certified Master-in-Training of The Leadership Challenge® and Program Manager for the Army Medical Department Executive Skills Program. A Board Certified Healthcare Executive and Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), he can be reached at Jrogers5@satx.rr.com.
Notice anything common about these examples? That's correct, they all represent stepping over the line in some fashion.
Unfortunately, you do not have to look very hard to find other similar examples, as they are very prevalent. I do wonder how much the depressed economy during the past couple of years has exacerbated the issue, at least in business.
The topic of cutting corners is getting a lot of attention these days, and those articles got me thinking about it even more deeply. My main question is whether or not people are becoming more lax in their standards about what constitutes cutting a corner. I have heard people passionately argue that one should never cut corners of any kind, even during tough times. Others attempt to build a convincing case that there are circumstances which make it acceptable. A great deal of this lively debate occurs with little time spent defining what cutting a corner actually means.
Apparently it can be any kind of deviation from an established process to a major lapse in values or ethics. Regardless, there are strong opinions on whether cutting corners is ever justifiable.
Where are you on this issue? Do you have a clear sense of what it truly means to cut corners?
Factors for Consideration
There are a number of factors most prominent in these discussions. One of them is the dialogue about the reason for even considering it. There are those who take the position that the means (of cutting corners) often do justify the ends of a greater good. For example, might it be acceptable to slightly fudge some non-essential data in the FDA approval process in order to get a phenomenal new cancer drug to the market quicker? Would it be OK to turn a bit of a blind eye toward the regulations, if the "less valid" information has nothing to do with the drug's effectiveness or side effects, but is more bureaucratic in nature? Would that really be dishonest?
What do you think? Would your judgment change if it was you or a loved one who needed the drug, and needed it right now, in order to survive?
What does cutting a corner really mean? Does it always imply stepping onto a slippery slope?
One controversial matter worth mentioning about this factor is, who decides what is the greater good? Short cutting a regulation to rescue people from a life-threatening disaster is one thing. But are next quarter's profits a worthy enough end to jeopardize a value of quality or safety? Would you be willing to postpone required aircraft maintenance if you needed to reduce costs—in order to keep your job, when unemployment is running out of control?
There is no doubt that many reasons can cause people to cross the line. Survival in tough times, for individuals and corporations, may certainly be one of them.
Unfortunately, so is the drive to satisfy more selfish interests. The real question to address is, are there any valid reasons?
Consistency (or lack thereof) of rules or regulations is another factor that has contributed to some spirited debate regarding cutting corners. Consider this purely fictional example. Imagine you operate in-store medical clinics in grocery stores. You have operations throughout the Kansas City area. Let's assume that Missouri law requires a licensed physician to be on the premises at all times, but Kansas law requires only a physician assistant. Let's go even further and say that there are two clinics which are virtually right across the street from each other, and the street happens to be State Line Road.
You are the manager that operates these two clinics, and one day your physician staff gets strained and there is no available doctor for this particular Missouri clinic. Do you take a chance and open the door anyway? After all, it is perfectly fine to do that in the store 300 feet to the west. What if there is a terrible outbreak of the flu, and the Kansas clinic is already overflowing? Would you deny people who need the care, especially when your staff of PAs and nurses can do the job?
Do you see how one could easily make a case for violating this perceived "silly" restriction which is obviously more politically than medically driven? Come on, the legal corner you would be cutting is a non-issue, a football field away. Why should you be penalized because of inconsistent government? Actually, it is not hard to imagine how the decision to open the clinic could be rationalized, is it?
What Are the Consequences
One final factor, which is virtually always in the forefront of the corner cutting discussion, is the need to intensely evaluate all of the consequences of your actions, even if it seems the corner is very minor. Never forget the impact of cutting what may have appeared to be an insignificant corner on the USS Forrestal, where one small deviation in the missile firing sequence resulted in 134 crewmen losing their lives, along with millions of dollars of damage to the ship.
Might cutting corners on quality to meet a shipment deadline result in dissatisfied or lost customers? How about intentionally reporting positive study findings on research which was never done? There are always consequences, regardless of how noble the cause may appear to be.
The world is full of slippery slopes and leaders must be thoughtfully vigilant about actions which will bump up against their lines in the sand. This is why it is so important for leaders to be clear on their values and principles, as these help define and reinforce those lines in the sand.
Leaders need something they can count on to guide them in making very difficult decisions. And often the most difficult decisions, where corner-cutting is considered, are matters that directly confront or conflict with values.
Think about how you might respond in the following situations. Would you be willing to risk paying a fine for opening your clinic doors, in the earlier example, to reduce human suffering? Would you be willing to immediately deploy critical resources to a natural or man-made disaster, if you are a government agency or contractor that is prohibited from incurring any kind of cost without prior budget approval? Would you conveniently overlook an under-aged worker in an overseas plant, if this job was the sole means of support for her family? These could all be perceived as examples of cutting a corner.
What Does This Mean
Leaders face dilemmas such as these every single day. Let me just say it is much easier to write about them than to deal with them. Likewise, it is easier to simply talk about the high road than it is to actually take it.
So what does this tell you about the right or wrong of cutting corners? First be aware that this decision is different than choosing between several potential right answers. Whether bumping up against company policies, social values or ethics, or even a broader legal system, corner cutting decisions are frequently between something right and something else acknowledged to be wrong. Although an objective risk-reward analysis might point you toward stepping over the line, know that there will usually be unintended or unexpected consequences. Something other than a better bottom line might be at stake.
Next, be especially mindful about the size or scope of the corner in question. One could easily get the impression that is never OK to cut a big corner, but a little one—well, how bad could that really be? And given the fact that no one will likely ever know anyway, what's the big deal? Can you visualize this conversation? Have you ever been part of one? It is not wise to let size, by itself, determine the decision.
Finally, cutting a corner is different than streamlining a process, although some may not see much difference. Most businesspeople with whom I have worked are quick to point out how important it is to continually improve processes, by eliminating redundant steps which add no value. Achieving a big goal in a tight timeframe sometimes requires one to create new processes. Success and growth requires new and innovative ways of getting things done.
So, continue to challenge, examine, test and experiment with new ways of operating and adding value for your customers, associates and others. And if it feels like corner cutting, get a variety of perspectives and opinions on your options. This will contribute to more thoughtful deliberation about reasons and consequences, and will give everyone involved a moment to reflect on the actions you are considering.
But think very carefully when considering sidestepping the laws of the land, ignoring your own company or external regulations, or compromising, even ever-so-slightly, the values you preach as un-compromisable. You may find just how quickly that slippery slope will take you to a place you really do not want to be.
© Steven C. Coats
Steven C. Coats is a Managing Partner at International Leadership Associates, a leadership development and consulting firm, and co-author of the book, There is No Box. To learn more about International Leadership Associates, please visit www.i-lead.com.
Whether your organization has less than ten employees or more than ten thousand, never underestimate the importance of trust. Trust is the true hallmark of healthy relationships inside and outside of the business world. Trust can be examined at the micro level—in how employees trust their immediate leader—or at the macro level in how employees trust the organizations they work for. In either case, trust plays a powerful role. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner's research tells us that trustworthiness, expertise, and dynamism are crucial to establishing what they call source credibility and, ultimately, that credibility is the foundation of leadership. Simply stated, without trust there is a lack of leadership credibility.
What can leaders do to build more trust with others?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines trust as "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something." The Great Places to Work Institute has determined that for leaders and organizations to build trust and inspire performance, leaders must focus on the elements that build credibility: communication, competence, and integrity. Sound familiar? These elements are closely aligned with Jim and Barry's findings related to source credibility.
Take a moment to answer these questions:
If you answered yes to all three questions, you have leadership credibility. But, how do you establish leadership credibility on a bigger scale?
Meridian Health, a large health care system in Central New Jersey with more than 11,000 employees, continually focuses on sustaining themselves as a workplace of choice. This organization has been recognized as a Best Places to Work in New Jersey for seven years in a row, and a Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for 2010 and 2011. The Gallup Organization has also measured Meridian's employee engagement as world class. How do they do it? Meridian Health takes leadership seriously. They have an organizational culture that is—by design—well-defined, clear to all, and goal oriented. It is called The Meridian Way.
Meridian Health's formula for success aligns leadership excellence, team member excellence, and service excellence together, which equates to a strong organization that pays significant attention to the selection, training, communication, and care of its employees. These efforts do not go unnoticed by employees and, in fact, aid in developing trusting relationships between employees and their leaders.
Through either lens—small or large—credible leadership is built on trust. The true measure of trust is reflected in many ways, such as employee retention, employee engagement, or customer satisfaction. As we continue on our own leadership journey in this ever-changing, fast-paced world, becoming a credible leader who is capable of creating a culture of excellence starts with the often simple, positive, thoughtful behaviors that promote trust: providing open and honest communication and feedback, being willing to share our expertise, and following through on our commitments.
* DWYSYWD = Do What You Will Say You Will Do — An acronym discussed in The Leadership Challenge® Workshop.
Patrice Ventura is a Certified Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and director of the Meridian Leadership Institute, a consulting firm that provides dynamic, experiential training and coaching programs to grow leaders and teams throughout organizations. Co-author of the Creative Problem Solving - The Meridian Maze® learning experience, she can be contacted at email@example.com. To learn more about how the Meridian Leadership Institute creates extraordinary learning experiences, visit www.meridianleadershipinstitute.com.
Q: Is it appropriate for a researcher to use just the LPI-self appraisal given to the leader and to not use input from others about the leader? Has your research found this use of the instrument results to be valid and reliable, or does the current documentation only support the self in conjunction with the "other" questionnaires about a leader?
A: The Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) provides great feedback about how frequently an individual engages in the five key practices of exemplary leadership, and the 30 specific leadership behaviors associated with these practices. Numerous studies have documented strong empirical relationships between this frequency and other important variables, such as credibility, constituent satisfaction, productivity and commitment.
The impact of these associations is even more powerful when the responses are not simply self-perceptions but are validated by the perceptions provided by other people involved in the relationship (e.g., direct reports, peers, managers). Additional value-added feedback comes from learning about how closely one's own perceptions mirror those of the people around you. When only self-assessments are possible the respondent is left to wonder just how much his or her perception of behavior is in alignment with what other people see.
With data from other people (from the LPI Observer) is available, respondents get to see the comparison (and/or contrast) between their view of how they behave and what other people observe (and experience). Moreover, individuals get to learn how various constituent groups may be in alignment or not with how they perceive this individual to be behaving. Indeed, it is not unusual to find variation even within categories of respondent constituents.
Self scores vary from the scores received by constituents. What we're looking for, however, is not 100% agreement between the two, but rather how the "shape of the curve" or pattern of responses between leadership practices and/or specific leadership behaviors is similar or different and what sense the individual can draw from this data. In this regard, the respondent is transforming data into information, and determining what is meaningful and what may be challenging or even problematic.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend that respondents use 360-degree feedback whenever possible, meaning that they don't rely simply on their own assessments. From a normative viewpoint, we continue to find that whatever the individual's assessments are, that by engaging in the five practices more than they are currently doing today, they will become more effective leaders.
Q: I find it more difficult to lead people who work remote from me. What advice do you have to reach out to people who are located around the country and even around the world when budget doesn't allow for travel?
A: This is a growing issue and in my mind a very real issue. When using the LPI, one of the reasons people will be rated lower is because of distance—there aren't enough data points to determine whether a person is doing something only occasionally or very frequently.
In managing long-distance associates, the challenge is to be there for them, just as you are for the people working right beside you. Since it is more difficult to determine when your remote people are feeling either unstoppable or lousy, you have to put forth some effort to establish what they most need from you and how you can support them. In these distant relationships, it is crucial to do the things you can to establish as much trust as possible, as quickly as possible. Think about what that requires. It often means an upfront, in-person meeting followed by regular phone calls to talk about the nature of the relationship, not just the work itself. It means spending time with the individuals (even if it's over the phone) strengthening the relationship and making sure the people feel their voices are being heard. It is also about Encouraging the Heart. Some argue about the near impossibility to effectively recognize remote people, because of the perceived needs of time, money or other factors. But encouraging is always more about genuineness than slickness, and all people, remote or not, get a lift from unexpected things such as personal notes or congratulatory phone calls. These can be easily done. As a leader, you just have to pay closer attention, since the accomplishments of the remote person are usually not as easy to spot.
Remember that we choose to follow leaders based on the way the leaders make us feel. Therefore we're more likely to follow people who make us feel strong, powerful, valued, etc. Remote associates are no different. You just have to concentrate on ensuring that your remote people feel included, supported and part of a team. You must be there for them!
Reflection Question: Without getting on an airplane, what are 3 things you can do to continue to build trust and provide a sense of "being there" to your remote associates?
Steve Coats, managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates
Q: What is the best method for transforming an environment where the Executive Director believes and even says out loud that there is only one right way to do things and he knows what the way is? He maintains a strong control on information, does not solicit employee input, talks about staff negatively behind their backs, and blocks change. Needless to say, tasks delegated by this person are rare and doomed to fail. No time is allowed for meetings between collaborating departments. Our company employs less than 50 people and many of them are so disheartened. How can I make a difference as a middle manager with a lot of responsibility and not much authority?
A: You raise one of the most common, universal workplace dilemmas. Most people want to use their own curiosity and creativity to do their work and nobody wants to be micromanaged. The controlling behavior that you describe is contrary to this truth and almost always counterproductive. Many research studies, including our own, have shown that management behavior that is perceived as controlling will result in low credibility and lack of commitment. That is a recipe for long-term disaster.
You mention that people are 'disheartened,' which generally leads to two alternative results. Either people become disengaged and 'go through the motions' at work or, if they are clear about their own core values, they will eventually find another, more fulfilling place to work. In today's jargon, this is the problem of talent retention.
It will take courage to step forward and change the situation if, as a middle manager, you make the choice to make a difference. You will have to lead the executive director (ED) to see a new path for achieving the business objectives he seeks, and you have to lead your colleagues to a new sense of possibilities to prevent them from jumping ship and harness their energy to join you. I suggest you adopt a very straightforward approach, directly applying The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership outlined in The Leadership Challenge.
"Model the Way" by clarifying the values that are driving your choice. When you find your voice, you can help your colleagues to raise the level of dialogue at work. It sounds like issues of personality and disagreement are dominating conversation and keeping people from developing the required new focus on the business issues at hand. You can model the behavior of stepping up to create new relationships at work.
"Inspire a Shared Vision" by helping everyone, including the ED, to see the advantages of a future situation in which everyone is pulling together to succeed. The clearer you can be about articulating the necessary change and the advantages of working in a different way to achieve the results the ED seeks, the better others will be able to share the aspirations and strive to achieve them.
This is, of course, is about "Challenging the Process" and we all know that people frequently resist change. Someone like your ED, so set in his ways, can seem like a formidable obstacle to progress. One key approach, as Dick Nettle of Bank of America has said, is to "make staying the same more painful than the change." Motivating others to change established habits is often based on their realizing that the costs of their current behavior are too great. Are people leaving? Is productivity lower than it might be? A possible strategy here might be to get a group together to take on a specific aspect of your work and create a prototype of a more effective process to prove your point to the boss.
Your goal, certainly, is to "Enable Others to Act." If you choose to lead, you must enable yourself first. Are you and your colleagues waiting for permission to act? This may be one of those cases where it would be better to seek forgiveness than ask permission by enabling yourselves to work together and proving your point by showing the ED the efficiencies and improved results you achieve by collaboration.
If you do choose to step forward and turn things around, you will need to "Encourage the Heart" along the way. A suggestion here is to be sure that you encourage and support the ED and his goals. You need to help him see that you understand that the goal is progress and coordination business success, not confrontation for its own sake.
Good luck out there.
Dick Heller is an energetic and enlightening consultant, trainer, and speaker who has worked with organizations in the U.S. and abroad to design programs that enhance leadership, team building, and customer service in climates of change.
Q: An executive in an upcoming program voiced his concern that the LPI instrument has no N/A response choice and, instead the instruction suggest that respondents use the value "3" if they feel that the statement does not apply. One of his respondents was worried that this would artificially lower certain scores, and I am hoping to get your rationale for that design.
A: It's been said, "You cannot NOT communicate." Everything we do—and don't do—sends a message. This is especially true for leaders. Because leaders are always "saying" something by their actions or non-actions, we don't offer observers an opt-out response of "not applicable" or "no opinion" on the Leadership Practices Inventory.
First of all, we do not allow respondents to leave any of the 30 items blank for empirical reasons. We've been testing and retesting the psychometric properties of the LPI for nearly 20 years, and our data tell us that ALL of the 30 LPI items do, in fact, apply to any leader at any level in any organization. Nearly 300 other researchers have also conducted studies using the LPI, and their conclusions are the same as ours. We know that each item accounts for a percentage of the statistical variance in why a leader is successful on a number of dimensions, including productivity, teamwork, employee satisfaction, and leader credibility. We also know that the more frequently a leader engages in each behavior the more positive the outcomes. Therefore, our tests indicate that each one of 30 items that assesses a leadership practice is an appropriate measure.
Additionally, the psychometric properties of each of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership are based upon scales that include responses to six statements (not five or four items). We know that the more items used to construct a scale the more reliable it will be-that is, the more likely it measures what it purports to measure. In addition, all of the normative data is based upon responses to all six statements that measure each leadership practice. If an individual did not have a response to one or more statements that comprise a practice we would be less confident in both the reliability and validity of their data.
Second, let's examine the specific question that is being asked on the LPI. When responding to the items on the LPI, the observer is asked: "How frequently does this person (the leader) engage in the behavior described?" The observer is then asked to rate the frequency of each of 30 behaviors on a scale from 1 (almost never) to 10 (almost always). It is very important to keep this question in mind, because the rationale for not including a "not applicable response" is based on the nature of the scale. This is a frequency scale; it is not a rating scale about how satisfied the observer is with the leader or how well the leader displays the behavior. It is about how frequently the observer sees or experiences the behavior. We use the frequency scale because it permits a rating under most conditions.
Third, the instructions we give to LPI administrators and leaders urge them to distribute the instrument only to those "who directly observe" the person in a leadership role. We therefore assume that the observers will have enough exposure to the leader to be able to offer assessments of his/her behavior. If that is not the case, then the LPIs should be distributed to other individuals who have directly observed the leader's actions.
Given these three factors-(1) all 30 items are valid and reliable measures of leadership behavior, (2) behaviors are measured on a frequency scale, and (3) the observer has had direct experience with the leader-a "does not apply" response is not appropriate. If all the conditions are met, then a response from the observer should be possible.
With these things in mind, if an observer says, "I just don't have enough information to respond," or "I don't know if you do this or you don't," or "I don't know if this behavior applies to you," what's the underlying message? It's been our experience that the observer is really saying, "I don't see that behavior so I can't rate that person on this item." In all these instances the observer is providing real information and feedback. The observer has already offered a rating by virtue of that observation. He or she is actually saying, "I don't see or experience you engaging in this behavior." Why waste this response and data?
So, the more critical question is not "Why don't you allow a 'not applicable' or 'no opinion' response," but "Why do you recommend that the respondent use a response code of '3' rather than some other number-say '1' or '2' or even '4'"?
We talked with respondents (primarily observers) about their responses and from these interviews determined that the use of "almost never" (1) and "rarely" (2) should be reserved for situations where the observer wanted to send a strong and meaningful message to the leader about his/her leadership behavior. Those who were unsure about how frequently a person engaged in a particular behavior tended to use the response "seldom" (3) to capture that sentiment. In this latest version of the LPI we now make an explicit statement that if the respondent feels a "statement does not apply," it is probably because they don't see or experience the behavior. That means, we say, "this person does not frequently engage in that behavior, at least around you. In that case, assign a rating of 3 or lower."
Q: One reader from a university asks—"We have a situation where the provost is clearly and agreeably on a mission to become a college president. As such, her stated vision for the organization is false and unbelievable and she has no credibility. Anything we attempt to do by her direction is seen as phony since everyone knows she is merely "notching her gun" and we are proceeding with activities and not in an environment of respected leadership toward a TRUE vision. This undermines our 'subordinate' leadership attempts since everyone knows 'we are just working to achieve her personal objectives.' How can you be a 'co/sub' leader when the head dog is clearly and painfully not credible?
A: This situation reminds all of us of an important lesson of leadership. There is a huge difference between having a vision—and having a vision that is shared by others. That is why the practice in The Leadership Challenge is "Inspire a Shared Vision," not "Force Your Vision on Others." And as we all know, it takes a lot of work to enlist others to fully buy into and "share" a vision.
It also reminds us of the great importance of credibility. A leader's lack of credibility does not just reflect on him or her, it impacts those directly associated with the leader as well.
The quick answer to your question is this: when the lead dog is not credible, you have to step up even more to provide the kind of leadership that can overcome that credibility problem. Since working with a leader like this can create a negative perception of your own credibility, you must make a decision that you are unwilling to accept that perception and fill in the leadership void created by her apparent self-serving agenda.
Effective leaders start with themselves, so the first thing to do is reflect on the situation and ask yourself what you might be doing to contribute to it. For example, is it possible that the provost is doing some things good for the university, but her self-serving behaviors are, for some reason, all you seem to see? Think about that.
Realistically, all of us have encounters with poor leaders throughout our careers, and this may be one of those times for you. So here are some other thoughts on what you can do as a leader that hopefully will provide you with some options for taking action.
1) Find and align yourself with others who are in the same situation and determine what you must do collectively in order to preserve your credibility and fulfill the needs of those you serve. When you feel like you might be faced with confronting the authority of a higher-level person, it is better to have people with you, versus going it alone.
2) Be willing to put forth a different vision for the group - one that is inspiring to you, your colleagues and those you serve. It does not have to be carved in granite or approved by the president. It just needs to be shared, and embraced by those you need with you. My guess is they will be willing help you develop it and carry it out. Remember, a prestigious organizational position is not a pre-requisite for having a powerful vision.
3) Figure out a way to provide the provost with some feedback about the consequences of her current behaviors. This can be quite difficult since many people in this position in a university are much more comfortable giving feedback than receiving it, but as a leader you must try. (She may be so focused on her goal to become president that she is unaware of the things she is doing that will ultimately sabotage her chances.)
4) Keep in mind that there is almost always more than one way to get something done, so search for innovative ways to fulfill your responsibilities, while not being directly contrary to the desires of the provost. If what you say about the provost's ambition is true, the people you serve in the university will likely be more interested in collaborating with you than worrying about her.
Q: The LPI's Group Summary report lists each of The Five Practices, the average score by observer group, and the standard deviation. The text at the top of the report explains that the standard deviation indicates the extent of agreement among the individual leaders and their observers. Can you explain more about what that actually means?
A: The standard deviation is a score that measures the dispersion of responses (or variance) around the average of all of the scores. It might be thought of as measuring the extent to which respondent's scores agree or disagree with one another.
From a mathematical perspective the standard deviation might simply be thought of as a proxy measure for the distance (or range) between the lowest and highest scores in the distribution. For example, if everyone's score was 45, then the standard deviation would be zero (no deviation around the average score of 45). If the average score was still 45 and the scores were, for example, 25, 25, 65, 65 the standard deviation from this distribution would be higher than if the scores were, for example, 40, 40, 50, 50.
The Group Summary page computes a standard deviation for your sample of respondents and is not calculated against the normative data base.
I hope you find this information helpful. Thanks for making use of the LPI and I hope that your colleagues found this feedback useful.
Q: When preparing to deliver The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, I like to call each participant in advance to find out what they expect to get out of the workshop. Recently, one of the participants said he'd like to figure out how to make his managing-to-leading ratio be more equal. Have you come across this issue in your leadership research? Do you have any suggestions that might help this person with this common challenge?
A: I was talking to a colleague today about this issue, so I know how real this is for many people. Warren Bennis once commented in writing about his tenure as president of the University of Cincinnati, "Routine work drives out non-routine work and smothers to death all creative planning, all fundamental change in the university-or any institution" (see page 189 of The Leadership Challenge, 3rd Edition) Warren might as well have also been talking about leadership. Routine work is often associated with managing and non-routine with leading.
That said, Peter Drucker also commented in response to a question about the difference between managing and leading and said that while there is a distinction between the two, they both have to be done by the same person, so he wonders why we make such a distinction. I think both Bennis and Drucker have relevant points. Both are talking about how we spend out time as manager-leaders (I use manager-leaders here because not all leaders are managers, at least by title). Both would acknowledge that there are a lot of tasks a manager-leader has to perform. Both would agree that there is a lot of routine work that we have to perform in our roles. Both would agree that routine work can overwhelm us.
What I try to do is acknowledge the dilemma, but also suggest that we reframe the situation. I would suggest that manager-leaders are BOTH managing and leading 100% of the time. They cannot separate themselves from the fact that constituents expect and deserve both, and both are absolutely essential. This requires a bit of reframing on the part of manager-leaders, but it can help in getting folks to see the situation differently.
For example, manager-leaders are ALWAYS being watched by their constituents. Every decision, action, speech, email, letter, visit, story, etc. sends a signal. The question then is, are the signals one is sending with ones' behavior consistent with stated values or are they inconsistent with them? Whether they like it or not, manager-leaders are Modeling the Way all the time. The question is, are they modeling the appropriate behavior? Are people saying, "His/her mouth says one thing, but his/her feet say another?" Or, are they saying, "This leader's words and deeds are aligned?" What leaders must realize is that Modeling the Way is not something you do when you get around to it, it's something you do every minute of the day, no matter what other tasks you are performing.
Second, a lot of leadership takes only minutes, even seconds. Take Encourage the Heart. The data is really clear on this. To be fully engaged, people need to be positively recognized at least once a week by their manager. Let's say I have 10 direct reports. That would mean in a given week, I should be recognizing, on average, two of my direct reports each day. Now, I could look at this as something formal and organized, or I could look at this as a simple "thank you." The "thank you" takes only seconds-minutes at most-and can be just as significant as some big celebration that takes weeks to organize. Encouraging the Heart is both of those things, and if you add up all the 10 one-minute recognitions they have cumulative effect.
As one final example, take Inspire a Share Vision-the most difficult practice according to our research. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is remembered 43 years after it was delivered in 1963. Think about it. Forty-three years later we remember the power of a speech that took under three minutes. Under three minutes! You can influence people's actions and thoughts in under three minutes. (Psychologists would tell us we can influence in a lot less time than that, actually.) It's not about how much time you spend. It's about the power of the message. Now, I will grant you that the dream didn't happen overnight. It didn't pop into his head in an instant. It took a lot of thought, a lot of trial and error, a lot of revisions, a lot of practice. But, in the end, those three minutes are some of the most important three minutes in modern history. So, I would encourage manager-leaders to spend more time in their regularly scheduled minutes to have a dialogue about peoples' hopes and dreams for the future. How about ten minutes a week to start? Or, spend one meeting a month on nothing but these questions: "Are we in this job to do something, or are we in this job for something to do? If we're in this job to do something, then what is it we're here to do? If people were to be talking about our contributions, our legacy, five years from now, what would you hope they would say?" I have to believe that the manager who raised this issue has sixty minutes a month to spend on these important questions.
So, in short: you are leading and managing 100% of the time. You can't escape the importance of both roles. How can your reframe the situation you are in so you can accommodate both roles?
I wish you all the best of luck with your next program.
Q: Do you have any advice on how to deal with reluctant participants of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop? How do you respond to people who are attending because "my manager made me go."?
A: The reasons why people attend workshops are as varied as the people themselves, but how they arrive in the classroom does not have to be an indicator of how they will participate in class. One trick is to drill down into the concept of "Leadership is Everyone's Business." By getting people to think about and articulate why it is their business, you can start the shift from compliance to commitment. For individuals who have been sent by their manager, it is important for the manager to explain why he or she sees value in the experience. But, it's equally important to help people discover what value there is for them in becoming a better leader. The pre-work "What Do I Want To Accomplish?" is a great starting point. I have tried a new approach that may be useful when you're dealing with a group that seems more compliant than committed at the start. Ask them to state the challenges they face and the "takeaways" from class they think would best equip them to deal with the challenge. Post the challenges (anonymously) around the room and when the class begins, ask the participants to name a takeaway they think will help them face one of these challenges effectively. The result is a shared sense of common challenges and a great conversation around how effective leadership can help address those challenges.
Another tip comes by way of Master Facilitator L.J. Rose, "Ask the class how many are here because they were told to be." Quickly link to the role of the leader by asking if as a manager or a project leader, they have ever found themselves in a similar situation? How many have been handed something they didn't ask for and told to make the most of it. Chances are good every hand will go up. Remind them the choice of what you do with what you've been handed is always yours.
I believe values are at the heart of the issue. By helping the participants tap into what really matters to them, you create the environment for them to become fully engaged. It's not about your fancy facilitator footwork, but giving them a reason to join in the dance.
Q: When faced with the dilemma of telling your boss the truth or what he or she wants to hear, what do you do?
A: Many of us have faced this situation. The boss walks into a meeting you are holding with your staff and presents a new idea or direction. She explains the new idea and with great excitement talks about future possibilities and performance implications. Then, very abruptly, you are put on the spot: what do you think? The dilemma hits you full on. You have two choices. Do you say the "correct answer," the one you know the boss really wants to hear? Or do you say what you really think?
We know from working with The Leadership Challenge database, and in conducting the Characteristics of Admired Leaders exercise, that honesty is the single most important leadership characteristic, and is the most often selected when choosing among the 20 characteristics listed. One of the lessons we can take from this knowledge is that if we expect the people around us to willingly follow our guidance and direction, it is very important that we model and demonstrate this characteristic in our everyday actions. In working with groups of people around the world in leadership development, it is obvious this one characteristic can pose a serious dilemma for us in facing our everyday challenges, such as the one described above.
In exploring this situational dilemma, people have responded with a variety of answers such as:
"You keep your job that's what you do."
"You say the right answer and live another day."
"You keep your mouth closed and don't say anything."
"Leaving information out is not telling a lie."
"You stay quiet in the meeting and follow-up with the boss after the meeting to express your concerns."
What is your response to this dilemma?
All of these hypothetical responses can create problems for us in demonstrating honesty to others. If people see us act in a particular way in the meeting, or say one thing, and they know our true feelings are different, we have created a credibility problem for ourselves. Others may observe our behavior and have some challenges seeing our actions as consistent with their understanding of honesty. Instead, they may interpret our actions as "political" or some other type of communication game (masking, diffusion, diversion). Our challenge is to figure out a way to say what we really believe, or at the very least, express our concerns in the meeting. This is a difficult situation, and one that separates the ordinary from the extraordinary in leadership behavior. At this fork in the road, it's often the path less traveled.
Now here is another way to look at this situation, knowing that this dilemma is very real for each of us as leaders, what does that tell us about how people respond when we are the ones asking the question? We must work hard to create an environment that supports peoples' willingness to say what they really think. We must continue working to be open to hearing the honest truth, even if we might disagree with their perspective or opinions. As leaders, we must create an environment where those around us are able and willing to share their opinions, even if they think we might disagree with the opinion or ideas. This is truly a Leadership Challenge for us all, and a choice provided by the fork in the road.
Q: What is the most effective way to come across as a leader, and not "just a manager"?
A: As a manager you probably spend a lot of time sweating the details, following up on action items, and tracking things. While these things are still important in an organization, when you lead, you have a different focus.
As a leader, people are looking for you to show them the future of the department, organization, or project. They expect and anticipate that you will understand and discuss the big picture with them. They are not necessarily looking for you to be 'hands-on'. People will appreciate a sense of direction, especially in times of change.
Talk about where the organization is going and what it will look like when success is achieved. One way to get yourself started is to imagine that you are being interviewed by a national business publication five years from now. You are sharing with them the vision that you have finally achieved; the successes, the learning, the people and the metrics. What did it take for this vision to be accomplished? What will it look like, feel like? What is different, how have things changed? Once you can articulate what the future will be, you will start thinking and behaving more like a leader.
Leaders concern themselves with the strategic aspects of the business without losing touch with front lines. Be sure that front line associates are included in your vision messages and that you get input and feedback from them about what the future holds.
Be attentive to celebrating the milestones, small wins, and successes of the organization. People will emulate what you do.
Leaders also address the hard issues, they make decisions and they stick to their values and leadership philosophy. There is the old saying that "the buck stops here" and it does. As a leader, you will address the issues that others want to avoid and you will ask the tough questions that need to be asked.
Above all, be authentic in your leadership, and show the people that work for you that you care about them as you lead them on new paths and in new directions.
Q: How do you keep the learning alive after the excitement of the workshop wears-off?
A: This is always the challenge. People get together and have a great shared experience and then return to work. We've made it our practice to ask participants to commit to developing two to three behaviors over the next few months and we even have them partner with someone to help them and to hold them accountable. Sometimes, though, even that isn't as effective as we would like for it to be.
One client, the University of Connecticut (UConn), may have cracked the code on sustaining leadership development. We conducted a two-day Leadership Challenge session for one of their clients and included some coaching time in the evening so that participants could get immediate feedback to their questions around the LPI results.
After the participants left UConn they participated in an online discussion that lasted three months. Six topics were covered, each lasting two weeks. Three main questions were posted for each topic. The participants were required to answer all three questions with at least 100 words per question. They were also given the opportunity to respond to any of the other participant's answers. Some of the topics covered were "Mining the LPI Data," "Envisioning an Effective Leadership Project," "Designing/Implementing the Project," "Reflecting on Your Leadership Project," "Assessing your Leadership Journey," etc. Keeping leadership alive and moving it from "common sense to common practice" requires that we keep The Five Practices in front of participants until it is ingrained.
Q: Some of my clients who have completed their LPIs are not available for a workshop due to their remote location. Aside from sending their results, how do I ensure that they benefit from this experience? Telephone, Internet, and email are the forms of communication that I use.
A: Yes, the LPI is a meaty document and experienced facilitators know that the feedback delivered through the LPI can sometimes cause joy and relief, but also confusion and anger. Those emotions are fairly easy to uncover during a face-to-face session, but can be a bit more difficult to observe at a distance.
My first suggestion is to keep in mind that the LPI has a lot of texture beneath the polished surface. However, technically, it is designed to accomplish one thing -- to measure the perceived frequency of The Five Practices that the Observers see, feel, and hear through various interactions with the Leader. During your follow up, please try to ensure that your Leaders do not think of the LPI as a personality test or popularity quiz. It is not a pass/fail exam, either.
There are numerous methods to support the participant in discovering new ways to increase these fundamental behaviors. The following illustrates one suggested framework for a typical LPI coaching session conducted over the telephone:
If they did not go to a workshop and they have no idea how to read the LPI, then you must begin the call with a detailed view of the LPI history and its focus, to create the proper context. A quick review of The Leadership Challenge model contextualizing The Five Practices should also be included.
Once they appreciate the LPI perspective, use the Summary Page to inquire as to what they understand about their scores at first glance. You can also use the Bar Graph pages that follow the Data Summary pages for each Practice to help them see their results more clearly. Once they have shared their thoughts, you can help them see behind their first impressions. They need to understand that this is just about frequency of behaviors and that these behaviors can be learned and/or increased through practice.
With practice in mind, for many of my colleagues, the Leadership Behavior Ranking page is the key place to draw the participant's attention. We sometimes ask the participant to photocopy the page so they can keep it near them?on their desk or in their portfolio. This ensures that they see it each day and enables them to stay focused on their behavior goals.
It is helpful to focus the participant on all of the leadership behaviors, not just the ones at the bottom of their score sheet. Of course, you will want those at the bottom to be raised through an Action Plan, but like the game of golf, it is beneficial to practice the whole game, not just the weak part of your game.
One of the best ways to begin an Action Plan discussion is to offer them long-term homework. Have them select three different behaviors a week for ten weeks and practice them consciously. Then repeat. Even if the behavior is one that is rated high, they should put it into the mix. The more they actively think about doing all thirty behaviors the more likely they will become leadership habits. They should take the LPI again, roughly nine months to a year from the first report. If possible, you can add remote coaching sessions monthly or at various appropriate intervals.
You also may want to walk them through each Practice's Summary page. Have them share with you what they think each Behavior means. This allows you to help clarify the meaning of the behavior, which prevents misunderstandings.
For instance, you may want to help them understand how to increase their scores in the Inspire a Shared Vision Practice.
Many people are a bit intimidated by this practice and their scores usually illustrate it. This is your opportunity to explain the behaviors in your terms. For instance, you might share with them that behavior seven, "Describes a compelling image of the future" is just another way to tell a "story" about the future in detail. Behavior 12, "Appeals to others to share a dream of the future" is just another way to "invite" their colleagues to be a part of the future vision/story. In addition, behavior 17, "Shows others how their interests can be realized" is another way to share with their constituents how they will "benefit" from joining. Doing this with all of the practices helps them see the behaviors more clearly.
The Percentile Ranking page is a great way to illustrate to participants how they rank with several thousand others who also took the LPI.
Moreover, if you have made arrangements for a narrative response section at the end the feedback report, the peer comments will create a deeper dialogue between you and the Leader in a very detailed and relevant way.
With the previously mentioned Action Plan in mind, I recommend that you use the LPI Leadership Development Planner. This helpful tool includes an outline for creating a detailed Action Plan. The workbook also provides exercises and other helpful hints that will help a participant stay focused on their LPI goals. A detailed reading list is also included.
Finally, if you are in an extended relationship, offer some specific tasks to complete before their next coaching session. Be sure to create a check-in date so they have a results deadline. Offer a suggested reading list, so you can discuss the key points with them and how it relates to their world. If you are not in an extended relationship, then be sure to answer any questions and offer to take emails from them on a sporadic basis.
Q: On the LPI Online website and in other related materials, you claim that the instrument is a "valid and reliable measure of a leader's effectiveness." Can you please explain how LPI results indicate leaders' effectiveness in terms of personal credibility, high motivation levels, and overall success in effectively meeting job-related demands?
A: First of all, most of these measures are subjective, as in:
Leaders' scores can range from almost never (1) or rarely (2) to very frequently (9) or almost always (10), and they are dependent upon the Observers' subjective opinion.
Through the years, LPI research has also proven a correlation to effectiveness. For example, as the frequency of leader's behavior goes up from constituent's perspective, so does their perception of the leader's credibility, effectiveness, and the like.
In some studies, as reported on the Research area, researchers have also used objective measures, like store performance (sales), hotel occupancy, financial contributions to the church, rates of turnover, stock price, student's test scores, and the like. Sometimes, the assessment is between similar or equivalent organizations who are recognized for high achievement versus those who are not (as in the case of "blue-ribbon" or distinguished schools).
All in all, the statements you refer to are based upon meta-studies—that is, not just a single study but the accumulation of results from a number of studies over a number of different industries, functions, and contexts.
Hope this helps!
Q: How can leaders stop being "held hostage to the present" and spend more time looking forward so that they will be able to articulate a vision and get others excited about that vision?
A: In their new book A Leader's Legacy, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner include a piece titled "Forward-Looking Is a Leadership Prerequisite." In this chapter they write, "You can leave a lasting legacy only if you can imagine a brighter future, and the capacity to imagine exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leaders." Sounds good, right? But as your question indicates, this is easier said than done. From the daily demands of email to the quarterly expectations of Wall Street, leaders are often distracted by short-term responsibilities at the expense of time spent in a visionary state of mind. Where can leaders start?
Enter André Martin from The Center of Creative Leadership. André is all about the future. In his recent presentation at the ISA (an association devoted exclusively to the issues and needs of executives in the training industry) conference, he captivated the room with a presentation on the global trends and business challenges that leaders are facing today. For over an hour, the leaders in the room were encouraged to ask questions . . . questions that we don't know the answers to (for a change!), questions that provoke thought, questions that encourage debate, and questions that get us thinking about what's next.
Take a listen. | Have a look at his slides.
Read some of the books he suggests:
Check out www.trendwatching.com and subscribe to their Trend Briefing e-newsletter.
This response article was submitted by members of The Leadership Challenge® editorial team.
Q: How do you encourage leaders to Challenge the Process when they are in an industry or position that requires them to "follow the rules"?
A: My fellow employees generally accept and embrace the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, except for Challenge the Process. State employees exhibit resistance to this practice because they feel that they don't have control over their organization's policies and processes. They feel that Challenge the Process means resisting public policy, which in some cases is state law. While they can't challenge everything, I try to explain that they can challenge things that are under their control (e.g., procedures, recognition, meeting facilitation). What else can I say to convince them of this key leadership practice?
Working for The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the largest state department in California, we too have faced resistance to the practice of Challenge the Process. The LPI results from our various leadership programs reflect a "reluctance" to accept this concept as a department. Many of the participants feel they are limited by our mission of public safety because they are focusing on overall organizational policies and procedures. The practice is seen as a defiance of authority and/or the refusal to comply with a rule, procedure, or edict. Their initial responses to mere mention of the practice often include: 'We can't change the Penal Code or violate it!', 'We can't let the offenders run free!', and 'We have to deal with the union!'
We have been successful in getting participants to embrace this practice by demonstrating how their role fits into the overall vision, mission, and plan for the department. For example, our mission as a department is to provide public safety. If we start at the top, the world wants to be safe. The President wants a safe country. The Governor wants a safe state. Our department Secretary fulfills the need for public safety by ensuring that offenders sentenced to state institutions do not escape or are released before their sentence is completed. Our wardens and superintendents make sure that their facilities are safe for both staff and offenders. And as an individual in your area of responsibility, you are applying the policies, procedures, and practices that add to the safety of all of the folks in the world.
So within our organization, we've further defined the practice by asking such questions as: 'How can you fine-tune what you do to make things just a little bit better?', 'How do you monitor and adjust what you do on a daily basis to be more efficient?', or 'Where is the kaizen*?' We tell participants that when they do that one little thing better, they have moved beyond the status quo. They have Challenged the Process and acted as a leader. This is the breakthrough moment. Our participants have had great success with developing challenges for their areas of responsibility because now it is not about "What I CAN'T do", but "What I CAN do."
* kaizen: continuous incremental improvement of an activity to eliminate waste (Source: http://www.qlic.ca/glossary.htm)
Q: Can leaders be followers too?
A: YES, ABSOLUTELY!
"A good leader is also a good follower," Susan Wong, financial analyst at Apple, told us. "This may sound like a paradox," she continued, "but based on my experience I notice that good leaders understand boundaries and are willing to accept sound advice from followers."
Too many leaders think that they should know it all, be able to do it all, and always be in charge. But Susan reminds us that the best leaders are self-aware enough to realize their limitations and secure enough to know they can let go of control and let others take charge.
The key to high performance is not simply good leaders but good leadership. In the set of skills and abilities, and in the highest performing organizations, the emphasis is on following the process, not the person, So if we were to look at leadership and followership though this lens, here's what we'd be asking people to follow:
From this perspective, we are all followers of a way-a path to making a difference in the world. Leaders are asking people to follow a process and it is in this way that leaders should always think of themselves as followers.
If leaders kept this in mind, then leadership could move around the organization-up, down, sideways, in, and out. Leaders would be thinking of what's best for the mission, not what's best for them.
There's another important reason for leaders to follow. No one person can do it alone. The idea of being the in-charge leader-the one who is supposed to do anything that is required and be better than anyone else, the charismatic bigger-than-life personality, the warrior charging in on a white horse to single-handedly save the day-is daunting. But what happens when we set aside this heroic myth and realize that leaders are not independent of others but, more to the point, dependent upon the energies and efforts of others? What happens is that we're more effective as leaders. We admit that we can't do it alone, and we then begin to develop and utilize the full potential of everyone.
Q: Can The Five Practices be taught in modules?
A: Anyone who has ever participated in a competitive sport or played a musical instrument knows how critical practice is. The job of leadership also requires that same discipline. Having The Five Practices top-of-mind is key to practicing them on a day-to-day basis. One method for achieving this goal is to bring participants back together over an extended period of time; participants exposed to The Five Practices frequently are more likely to integrate them into their daily routines.
Many clients have chosen to divide The Leadership Challenge® Workshop into modules based on each of The Five Practices. If your organization has the commitment, this is the preferred method of delivery to get the best results. Most who have chosen this approach divide the practices as follows:
Jim Kouzes consistently suggests that we approach leadership development as though we were practicing for a sport: practicing a set of specific skills until one becomes proficient. The more you practice the better you will get. By breaking up The Five Practices into short sessions over an extended period of time, participants have a greater tendency to actually learn the practices.
In addition to bringing participants back together for a modular schedule of learning, I highly recommend administrating the LPI both before and after an extended training initiative. Too often the LPI is administered before the training and is never used as a follow-up tool to assess the learning that should have taken place in the classroom. As facilitators and trainers, our goal is often to hold participants accountable for their learning. And re-administering the LPI six to nine months after the learning initiative is a great way to build in and reinforce a measure of accountability.
As my high school wrestling coach used to say, "practice makes permanent." Developing leaders requires that we build in plenty of opportunities to practice, practice, practice. Dividing The Leadership Challenge® Workshop into modules is an ideal solution to ensure The Five Practices become permanent.
Daren Blonski is an authorized affiliate of The Leadership Challenge. Daren studied at UC Davis where he received his bachelors in Organizational Studies. His passions are leadership philosophy and entrepreneurship.
Q: How can I really ever hope to get better as a leader, with all the emails, voicemails, meetings, and everything else on my plate? I don't know how I can ever do it all.
A: The management sides of our jobs are endlessly screaming at us. And we all know why. It is those management activities that are most closely measured, reviewed, and valued. And importantly, they also are the basis of our pay. No one gets a free pass on achieving today's results. And the primary focus of our management responsibility is just that: delivering results each and every day.
As leaders, you also must tackle the added responsibility of preparing the organization to change, grow, and prosper over the long haul. That means you have to be continually building future capabilities while consistently making the monthly numbers.
Successful leaders simply cannot avoid this seemingly competing set of demands. That's why we call it the leadership challenge, not the leadership cakewalk! But the following ideas might help you start making progress in resolving what often seems like a conflict between your role as a manager and as a leader.
One thing is for certain: in order to find the time to fulfill your current management obligations and still become a better leader, you must change. Sometimes you must change what you do, which means saying "No" to work that might be comfortable but is simply not valuable enough to keep doing. Do not underestimate how hard that is to do. And often you also must change how you do your work. For example, spend 10 less minutes in reviewing results with people and devote it to brainstorming ideas instead. Set meeting times for 20 minutes or 40 minutes, vs. the standard half or full hour. Or start out your meetings by genuinely recognizing the efforts of people deserving credit, then use the remainder for your management work.
Be fully committed to your growth as a leader and you will find many creative ways to free up the time to lead.
Steve Coats is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers in several countries around the world is one of the leading authorities on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Recently, I was conducting a workshop for a particular department in a large corporation. Only a few minutes into the program, the department head made the statement "360-Feedback doesn't work-period." How do I respond to such a comment?
A: In a recent article in Talent Management magazine, Kenneth M. Nowack, Ph.D., offered reasons "Why 360-Feedback Doesn't Work." Nowack contends that there is a lack of research confirming that 360 feedback impacts behavior change and performance. At the same time, research documented in The Leadership Challenge shows that people are successful in achieving their goals and "self-correcting" their performance if they receive ongoing, detailed feedback.
This paradox struck me when I considered the LPI, a powerful tool that assesses leadership behaviors based on The Five Practices of Leadership®. My business partner, Jo Bell, and I have found the LPI to be very effective in helping individuals improve their leadership behaviors. Jo has worked with the LPI for nearly 10 years and says, "With the clients that take the LPI a second time within 3-6 months, every single person I've worked with has shown improvement in one of the practices or in multiple behaviors. The improvement shows up in their own scores, or in the smaller differences between their scores and those of their constituents." Organizations that have chosen to focus their development efforts on a single practice also have demonstrated significant improvement on their overall LPI over a two year period.
While our experience shows that the LPI does work, I agree with Nowack that organizations and individual leaders can help others implement the feedback component more effectively. Often organizations promote thinking that I call the 'event' mindset, where the LPI, for example, is used merely to reflect a point-in-time snapshot rather than a guide that can be helpful in the process of lifelong learning and development.
In learning and development circles, we campaign to eliminate the event mentality to ensure that learning takes place and to create a positive impact on performance and business results. Instead, in The Leadership Challenge® Workshop we encourage clients to think of leadership as a journey and the LPI as the compass. LPI results can show leaders where they are and where they need to go. They may find that they are right on track in some areas while in others they may need course corrections to be more effective.
With the LPI, leaders see their current location, but the journey should not end there. Leader's can't put the compass down at the start of the journey and expect that they'll successfully navigate through areas where they are unsure of themselves. Unfortunately, that is what happens when the LPI is used as a one-time tool to improve behavior. When viewed as a snapshot only, any tool can be static, providing little information or incentive to move forward.
Instead, we must view and use the LPI as a guide. Refer back to the tool often. Perhaps have clients complete it again periodically. And allow leaders time for practice, reflection, and additional feedback. Look at feedback as a dynamic process, one that is essential to developing talent in an organization and changing behaviors that lead to more effective individual and organizational performance.
When leaders increase awareness of their own behavior by participating in the LPI, they see themselves differently and can make a concentrated effort to improve their leadership. The most effective leaders continually seek feedback, implement changes that enhance their leadership skills, and focus on practicing those skills for the long term.
Renee Harness is president of the Meridian Leadership Center and a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. She has led organization development, training and effectiveness initiatives in corporations and academia for over 14 years. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Q: Is there a perfect leadership or management style? Or is it situational?
A: First, I am always careful to distinguish between management and leadership. Although we always strive for a balance of strong management and strong leadership to achieve success, they are different. While management focuses on tactical processes such as budgeting, reporting, and managing projects, leaders focus on business results through, or with, people. Given this distinction, I will focus my comments on leadership.
The one thing that great leaders have in common is the use of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® researched by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. Even when using these practices, however, leaders' styles can be very different and yet still be equally as effective. So while there are commonalities among those who lead well, there is no single leadership style that is more effective than another.
Leadership is definitely situational. In order to have outstanding business results, a leader must be able to respond to the needs of constituents. Rather than treating others as the leader wants to be treated, a practiced leader may follow the advice of Dr. Tony Alessandra and "treat others as they want to be treated."
Whether working with a peer, a boss, or a direct report, a leader must adapt-providing more information and coaching to help newer direct reports achieve their goals while providing more challenge to those more experienced, for example. Or, aligning work with what is valued by individuals and the organization. "People see the benefit of behavior that is aligned with cherished values," Kouzes and Posner advise. Although it would be impractical to pursue and incorporate every individual, a successful leader garners commitment from each member of the team by establishing common values that are important to all.
When considering the question of whether there is a perfect leadership style, I also think about those that do NOT work. The command-and-control style is the most notable example. While autocratic leaders can have integrity with their values, provide a vision, challenge processes, and give people the tools for growth, they can lack something that the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found is necessary for success: affection or warmth. Cited in Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner, this CCL research shows that warmth is a key characteristic of high-performing leaders. Unfortunately, this fifth practice of leadership is often overlooked by those employing a command-and-control style, but is essential to the success of both leaders and their organizations.
While there is no one "perfect" leadership style, The Five Practices provides a solid framework for leaders to perfect a leadership style that works best for them as individuals and also for their constituents.
Renee Harness is president of the Meridian Leadership Center and a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® and Leadership Practices Inventory® Workshops. She has led organization development, training and effectiveness initiatives in corporations and academia for over 14 years. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: During the discussion of Model the Way, the conversation often turns to the distinctions between one's own values, the shared values of the group or the organization, and the Characteristics of Admired Leaders. How are they the same? How are they different? Why is it important to be paying attention to all three?
A: Borrowing from a favorite technique of Jim and Barry's, let's start with a look at definitions. Funk and Wagnall's Dictionary defines a value as "something regarded as desirable, worthy, or right; as a belief, standard, or moral precept." A characteristic, on the other hand, is defined as "a distinctive feature or trait."
Already a subtle difference is beginning to emerge. A value is about belief-something I, or we, choose-while a characteristic is an attribute, something that typifies the subject. In this case, the 'subject' is a Leader.
Of course, in the Characteristics of Admired Leaders research, people select the attributes they look for in leaders they'd willing follow, so there is a relationship between our values and what we admire. Hmmn?..
OK, let's go back to values: 'yours' and 'ours'. Personal values are those core precepts and beliefs that you hold dear. You decide what they are. You use them to guide your decisions and your actions-wherever you are and in whatever context you find yourself. As Noel Tichy frames the conversation, your personal values speak to the question, "Who am I?"
Shared values hold the same place for the group: in the ideal scenario, guiding all business and organizational decisions whatever the context. With shared values, we decide through dialogue and consensus at the relevant structural 'levels' of the group or organization. Shared values speak to the question, "Who are we?"
Two different questions: one personal, one for the group. Hopefully the answers offer enough 'overlap and fit' that we, as individuals, are comfortable in the organization and the organization is confident in us. Both are important.
The research methodology for the Characteristics of Admired Leaders offers another link between values, characteristics, and attributes: what we see is that the decision about what attributes to emulate has already been made for us, by thousands and thousands of people, validated again and again by workshop groups time after time. People, based on their personal set of beliefs and experience, choose seven characteristics they look for if they are to willingly follow someone. Then the results of those choices are tabulated and we look for those characteristics that were chosen by at least 50% of the individuals. No discussion, no consensus? rather a search for what will inspire "followership" in the most people.
As it turns out, the characteristics that rise to the top are important to many more than 50% of the people who have responded. In the most recent edition of The Leadership Challenge, 89% of research participants identified 'honesty' among the most important attributes of a leader, 'forward looking' was cited by 71%, 'inspiring' by 69%, and 'competent' by 68%. 'Intelligent' and 'fair-minded' ranked 48% and 39%, respectively.
So, it begins to look like the Characteristics of Admired Leaders research speaks to yet another question, "Where is the biggest bang for your leadership buck?" Or as I often think of it, if you want people to join with you willingly, the "price of entry" for leadership is that you must demonstrate the top four characteristics that are consistently chosen by the highest percentage of people.
Personal values . . . define you as a credible leader. Shared values ? set the direction for the business decisions we make. Characteristics of Admired Leaders ? inspire others to believe in us, hear us out, and follow our lead. Each is distinct, yet related, and all are critical components when we ask ourselves how we want to Model the Way.
Sharon Landes, a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, has been working with individuals and organizations around the world for over 25 years to help them clarify their core values and beliefs, develop their leadership, work effectively in teams, and advance their communication and relationship-building skills. Currently based in Berkeley, she can be reached at email@example.com.
Q: I work at a university in a smaller department. We have a dean and associate dean who have markedly different leadership styles. The dean is quite laissez-faire, while the assistant dean is command-and-control. The dean says "go ahead" on an idea and the assistant later says "no." This has resulted in faculty and staff being quite confused and discouraged. Do you have any advice for working with these two styles?
A: As a former academic, I know this story all too well. What you have described as "working with two conflicting leadership styles" may require a different framing story—how we view a situation or the story we tell ourselves.
The new story I would suggest is "How can I get my idea approved." My experience suggests that there are two choices here. Both involve working with the system rather than remaining "confused and discouraged."
Your first choice involves soliciting the support of your Chairperson for your ideas. Department chairs routinely have more contact and connection with deans and associate deans and, as your ally and advocate, may be able to frame your idea differently so that it is viewed as beneficial to the greater good of the department or college.
The second approach (the one I believe to be more fruitful long-term) is to get to know your associate dean's story. What you describe as conflicting leadership styles is more a systemic issue: the Dean playing the role of the "good cop" to the Associate Dean that has been hired to be the "deal-breaker"-the one that raises the red flags on new ideas or approaches. So, Challenge the Process!
As a specialist in adult communication and storytelling, I have developed a framework that considers My Story, Your Story, and Our Story. To Challenge the Process, you will need to suspend your story to find out your Associate Dean's story. Find out what motivates and inspires and frame your ideas in those terms. Discover what data he or she selects and what assumptions and conclusions are drawn. Find out what is likely to generate a no response and what might garner a yes. As you listen, you can begin crafting the Our Story-a blending together of your story as well as the Assistant Dean's. This means you have to build a relationship. And when you do this, you just might find that you are modeling the way for your colleagues.
Art Cross, Ph.D., a former academic in the field of adult communication, now heads Cross Learning Associates, a consulting practice that focuses on Leadership (based on the principles of The Leadership Challenge), Art of Dialogue, Storytelling, and Journaling. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do I use the Leadership Practices Inventory assessment instrument in determining employee promotions?
A: Having been a Director of Human Resources for a large corporation for several years, I understand the challenge of promotional decisions and the desire to have a "tool" to assist the process. However, the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) was developed and has been used as a personal development tool-and, specifically, not for recruiting or promotional decisions. In fact, to protect the credibility and integrity of the instrument, we only provide LPI results to the individual receiving personal feedback. It is then up to each individual to determine with whom the results should be shared. Only with an employee's permission have we provided a copy of LPI results to a boss or HR Manager.
If individual respondents thought LPI feedback would be used to determine who received job promotions and who did not, there is the likelihood that the results would be skewed either positively or negatively. In addition, speaking technically, while we can prove that people who practice the Five Practices more frequently produce better results than those who practice them less frequently, the LPI has not been validated as a selection or promotional tool.
I heartily endorse using demonstrated leadership competency in the promotability equation and would use job-related metrics to make that determination. Start with business results, which are consistently higher under good leadership. Then look at the credibility of the managers in question: How trustworthy are they? Do they consistently do what they say they will do? Do they treat people with dignity and respect, especially direct reports? Are their direct reports energized by a clear, uplifting vision of what they are striving to be and achieve? Are other people drawn to work with a particular manager or working to get a transfer? How is turnover, and what is being said in exit interviews? Do these managers provide promising folks to the rest of the organization?
These are examples of what is measurable, if you invest the time to look. Most 360-degree tools that I am familiar with are designed to help managers recognize their strengths and opportunities for improvement in the areas I've mentioned above. What managers do with the feedback, over time, will either enhance or limit their promotability.
Steve Houchin, owner and Managing Partner of International Leadership Associates, has presented the Leadership Challenge Workshop® to mid-level and senior executives in corporations around the country for over 15 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Q: I consider The Leadership Challenge the most important and concise book ever written about leadership. In fact, it's my 'Leadership Bible'. I've sensed increasing difficulties among my executive coachees regarding the "loneliness of power" aspects of the leadership role. Obviously the coaching process has proven quite helpful to these executives. And although the issue has been touched on by Kouzes and Posner in the 4th edition (on pages 319 and 328), I'm still investigating how to address the burdens of leadership issue and support my coaching clients more effectively. Top management leaders are human beings, but they frequently feel as if they are expected to act as "super-humans" without flaws. I'd duly appreciate some thoughts from the authors on this issue and suggested resources for further investigation.
A: Thank you for the question. You remind me of a comment made by Professor Ichak Adizes in a keynote he delivered to the Central and East European Management Development Association last year in Istanbul, Turkey. In commenting on the culture of individualism that permeates much of business, he said, "Individualism fosters loneliness-and not only at the top. It permeates, by and large, all the managerial ranks." What I take away from Ichak's comment is that the feeling of "loneliness at the top" is rooted in the notion that leaders are somehow separate and apart from others. That they must-because they are the leaders-act alone. They must climb to the top of the mountain, become inspired by some divine inspiration, and then descend from the heights to deliver the Word to the people. There's an assumption that leadership is a solo act, so leaders begin to believe that they must think alone, decide alone, and act alone.
But nothing is further from the truth. Leadership is a relationship. Exemplary leadership requires an extraordinary level of trust and a high level of collaboration. This attitude is best represented by Don Bennett, the first amputee to climb Mt. Ranier. That's 14,410 feet on one leg! When I asked Don the question, "What is the most important lesson you learned in climbing Mt. Ranier?" he responded, "You can't do it alone." Here was a guy who had just done something no one else had accomplished, and yet he believed the key to success was teamwork. It seems to me that the place to start with your clients is to coach them in the importance of building trusting relationships and the criticality of learning to collaborate, even on those decisions they think they have to make on their own. Having at least one trusted advisor, such as you, is a great start.
As to the expectation to be "super-humans," perhaps what is most needed is the courage to be simply human. As Barry Posner and I wrote in our book, A Leader's Legacy, anyone who's ever been in a leadership role quickly learns that you're squeezed between other's lofty expectations and your own personal limitations. You realize that while others want you to be of impeccable character, you're not always without fault. You learn that you can't see around every corner, and even if you know your way forward everyone may not end up at the same destination, let alone be on time. You discover that despite your best efforts to introduce brilliant innovations, most of them don't succeed. You find that you sometimes get angry and short, and that you don't always listen carefully to what others have to say. You're reminded that you don't always treat everyone with dignity and respect. You recognize that others deserve more credit than they get, and that you've failed to say "thank you." You know that sometimes you get, and take, more credit than you deserve.
In other words, you realize that you're human.
The courage to be human is the courage to be humble. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you aren't always right, that you can't always anticipate every possibility, that you can't envision every future, that you can't solve every problem, that you can't control every variable, that you aren't always congenial, that you make mistakes, and that you are, well, human. It takes courage to admit all these things to others, but it may take even more courage to admit them to ourselves. If you can find the humility to do that, however, you invite others into a courageous conversation. When you let down your guard and open yourself up to others, you invite them to join you in creating something that you alone could not create. When you become more modest and unpretentious, others have the chance themselves to become visible and noticed.
Jim Kouzes is the co-author of the best-selling, The Leadership Challenge, and A Leader's Legacy.
Q: I just finished reading your fantastic book and have a couple of questions. When an organization will not change, do leaders leave in order to better themselves? Do you just walk away and let them sink? The other question I have concerns the small group of individuals who will not cooperate in achieving the group's goals, or do not have the necessary skills—and they will neither learn them nor change their behavior. What do you do, fire them?
A: You ask some terrific questions. Permit me to briefly respond to each:
"When an organization will not change, do leaders leave in order to better themselves? Do you just walk away and let them sink?"
Our research indicates very clearly that "personal values drive commitment." When a leader's personal values are highly consonant with the values of the organization in which they work, then the leader is more committed, more satisfied, more productive, more willing to stick around when times get tough, etc. But when personal values are not consonant with the organization's values, then the opposite is true. People will continue to stick around if the incentives are great enough, but only until they can find another job in an organization where the values are more congruent. This being the case, it would seem to me that sticking around benefits neither the person nor the organization. Also, I am not so sure that organizations will "sink" with the loss of one leader. It might, but I'm not sure that the loss of any one leader will cause the entire organization to fail. One could argue that the constant conflict and tension might do even more damage to the person and the organization.
"The other question I have concerns the small group of individuals who will not cooperate in achieving the group's goals, or do not have the necessary skills-and they will neither learn them nor change their behavior. What do you do, fire them?"
Firing employees is always a last resort and never the first intervention a leader should make. I don't have nearly enough data to respond fully to this question but the first thing I would do as a leader would be to ask "Why aren't people cooperating to achieve group goals?" An absence of cooperation on group goals suggests that people don't see how the group goals are in their best interests? Why is this the case? I could list many other questions I would want to ask before "firing" would become an option, and that would be my recommendation in this case. Collecting valid and useful information would be the first step I would take.
And the same is true for the question, "Why don't they want to develop the necessary skills or change their behavior?"
Is this really a skills issue—that is, could people do what is required if their lives depended on it? If they can, then it is likely not a skills issue but something else. What is the root cause here? It's just inconsistent with what we know about human motivation for people not to want to learn new things IF they can see how it will benefit them. So, I am left with more questions than answers. Before I conclude that people should be fired, I'd spend at least an hour or two in one-on-ones with each person involved, simply asking questions to try to understand what is going on, why they are working here, what their aspirations are, what recommendations they would have for improvement, what they need to do the very best they can do, etc. With that kind of information, I think I'd be better able to make an informed choice about what kind of action was required.
Thanks again for your provocative questions. We greatly appreciate it, and we wish you all the best.
Jim Kouzes is the co-author of the best-selling The Leadership Challenge and A Leader's Legacy.
Q: I am designing a leadership course for MBA students. We are considering designing it around The Leadership Challenge. I would like suggestions for specific case studies which illustrate one or more of The Five Practices to use in our curriculum.
A: The world is brimming with cases suitable for such a course. Some cases we study in conjunction with The Five Practices at Darden's executive education program include: Warner Cable, which may be more of a negative example of leadership styles, in some ways, but always generates very good discussion; Peter Browning at Continental White Cap which addresses evolutionary organizational change; and Philip Justus at eBay Germany which features good cross-cultural and high tech aspects. John Smithers at Sigtek focuses on leading change from the middle, in a not very successful Six Sigma implementation, that can be examined and discussed using the Five Practices even if they were not present (e.g., where did John Smithers fall short?).
Examples of cases that I use in my elective course at Darden all demonstrate at least some of the Practices: Phil Jackson and the Chicago Bulls; Louis Gerstner and Lotus Development Corporation (a takeover scenario); and Play (a multimedia case about a small creativity consulting firm). Another Darden case worth previewing is the Chicago Park District, which is about very large scale organizational change in a failing public organization.
And finally, a case from Thunderbird: Ricardo Semler at Semco offers a very compelling story of drastic organizational change, covering all Five Practices.
Joseph W. Harder Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. His research interests include distributive and procedural justice in organizations, the effects of perceived injustice on individual performance, determinants of individual and organizational performance, pay-for-performance systems, and perceptions and effects of leadership. Harder has taught executive education in the U.S., Asia, Europe, Central, and South America.
Q: I'm curious about the data that is used when comparing responses from current users of the various LPI instruments vs. norms established from others. For example, are results from the LPI-Self instrument plotted against a LPI-Self normative database? Are results from mangers plotted against data collected from managers? Or is the normative database used for comparative purposes a collection of all responses from leaders and observers?
A: That is an excellent question and one that we have been recently discussing as the quantity of responses we now have gathered into our database has grown substantially and new ways of slicing-and-dicing the data is now possible. However at this time, we do not break out leaders and observers into separate data segments against which direct comparisons can be made (e.g., self responses vs. self/leader data). Currently we also do not segment response data from observers based on their relationship to the principle LPI participant. Right now, we have no specific normative databases for managers, coworkers, etc. Rather, all responses to the Observer instrument are aggregated.
Based on the amount of data we now have, there is a potential opportunity to implement such a change in the LPI Online that would allow results to be plotted in a more specific way. That may be considered as a future enhancement to the capabilities offered through the site. We would be unable, however, to fine-tune the data to this same degree for responses processed from paper submissions.
Q: I believe it is a good idea to have upper-level leadership experience The Leadership Challenge before rolling it out to others in the organization. In general, most senior leaders with whom I work do not feel they need leadership development and want to implement it for lower-level management staff only. How have you gained commitment from such senior leaders when this happens?
A: This is a great question as we, too, have faced this issue with many of the organizations to whom we have introduced The Leadership Challenge. To be sure, organizations that have recognized the importance of having executive and upper-level management experience The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and learn the value of putting The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® into more consistent use have been more successful at bringing aspiring leaders at lower levels of the corporate ladder up-to-speed. When this is not the case, one of the most common evaluation comments we see after a workshop is completed often runs something like "this is great information but my boss should really be learning these skills." Also during workshops, participating leaders often talk about what "they" should be doing-referring, of course, to someone else at a higher management or executive level.
Because we always must recognize that we can only be responsible and control our own behavior, our workshop discussions always get redirected so that the 'they' is seen, in fact, as 'we.' To whatever your sphere of influence, to the people on your team, or to your direct reports, you are the person to whom they look to provide leadership. All of these we vs. they comments can be minimized with support from senior executives and by holding even the most C-level leaders accountable for learning the same skills that aspiring leaders everywhere else in the organization are being required to learn. This creates far greater commitment from all to The Five Practices.
So while the reality may be that not all upper level executives see the need to go first, there are many other ways to gain their support and get them involved:
1. Ask one of the most senior-level leaders to kick off the workshop. Even if you have to brief him or her on what to say, it is inevitable that the kick-off executive will see that more will need to be learned.
2. Provide upper level executives with a copy of The Leadership Challenge book. Or consider purchasing a copy of the 16-page summary, "The Five Practices Article", that provides an overview of what The Leadership Challenge is all about.
More often than not, when people read this brief introduction, they want to know more. They realize this model is not about learning something completely new. Rather, it is about helping leaders recognize their 'personal best' leadership experiences from the past and learning to consciously incorporate The Five Practices behaviors in order to create similar 'personal best' experiences in the future.
3. Gain the support of one champion for each workshop that can share their personal experience with each of The Five Practices as it is being taught.
We tried this recently in two pilot workshops with great success. Although we normally prefer to facilitate a workshop off site so participants do not get pulled back into the day-to-day work during breaks and lunch, the organization wanted to hold the workshop in their on-site training room. As it turned out, this on-site training worked well because it allowed our Champion the flexibility to drop by at specific points during the workshop to share stories of success as well as failures. For example, one executive recently shared the results of his attempt to force his vision down the throats of his constituents without considering their input and making it a shared vision. This was very powerful and led the whole organization to question their current vision and reassess whether it was truly shared.
In order for champions to share what they know about what one of The Five Practices means, they have to know what they are talking about. And to that end, they read and think about the practice which, essentially, achieves the goal of exposing them to The Leadership Challenge.
This organization since has asked that another workshop (albeit a shortened version of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop) be presented to senior-level executives. Now that it is their idea, it will take on a whole new meaning. Executives will want to attend-not because they have to learn new leadership skills but because they see the value.
One of the reasons that the value of The Leadership Challenge is more evident is because we also have successfully integrated a follow-through process on commitments and goals.
4. Finally, gain support from senior leadership to attend the graduation event and present certificates. We use the process described in the Facilitator Guide, including bombarding each recipient with positive affirmations. When executives see this positive experience, they are motivated to attend other events. Moreover, each participant shares one of their commitment goals and makes a public statement about the value of the workshop. This also demonstrates to executives the workshop's value in generating commitment to achieving results.
These are a few of the ways that we all can work to involve senior-level executives-even those reluctant to see the value in this type of workshop training.
Focus on allies, not resisters. They learn about The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. And when the experience creates interest and excitement-when it becomes their idea-they will get on board.
Stephen Hoel is president of Diversity Leadership Consultants and a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. Experienced in both operations management and human resources with Walt Disney World Resort, Hilton, Marriott and other independent hotel and restaurant organizations, he has designed and delivered leadership and team interventions and multicultural leadership development initiatives. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Can you provide some examples of an effective leadership role in an environment of competing priorities and continuously growing customer demands?
A: What a great topic!
First, let's list some of the challenges most leaders face when trying to balance priorities and increasingly demanding customers.
Let's face it. This leadership gig is exhausting!
So what can we do? Well, I would suggest we start with EMPOWERMENT, INNOVATION and CHEERLEADING
Let's stop thinking that this is our problem alone. As leaders we need to share our concerns and problems in a way that allows others to jump in and help solve them. The better we get at empowering our people, the closer we bring the problems to a place where they can be solved. We need to push planning down a level and let our front line folks get involved. When we do that, we have fully involved the people who are the first to know what is coming and who have the solutions at their finger tips. Instead of saying, "If I was in charge I would fix this problem" they say "If I don't fix this problem, we are not going to reach our service goals." When it comes to managing all the different priorities in the business we can leave each issue, problem or part of the business in the hands of a capable team. The day-to-day operations will be taken care of by self-managed teams. In terms of anticipating new issues and being ready to take advantage of new opportunities, these teams will be best able to recognize these and plan for them. You can relax if these teams report to you so that you are not responsible for finding all the issues and opportunities, only for creating an environment where others will. You need to enable the people around you.
If you want to know about customer demands and ensure you are on top of the latest trends, just ask the folks who work alongside the customers. They know what is going on. If their plans involve feeding information about new products and services into the organization, they will do it. Suddenly you are a market leader just by listening to your front line people.
Your role as a leader is to create the environment where this can happen. You can breathe a sigh of relief when you do not have to create the next great innovation. You do, however, have an important role to play in making this happen. You are the one who will help to create the environment where others can innovate. You do this by making sure that it is okay to take risks, to try new things and to learn from mistakes. Watch how you react when you hear about a new product or service failure. Do you ask, "What can we learn from this?" Do you make people feel safe when they are trying new things? This is all about the practice of "Challenging the Process."
Depending on your personality, this might be the toughest job of all, but it is a crucial role for leaders. It combines "Inspire a Shared Vision" and "Encourage the Heart" and requires that we support the empowered, innovative team by shouting out the team cheer and telling them how great they are. Let's face it, you want them to innovate in such a way that they score a touchdown as often as possible. You want them to find the energy to get back up after a rough go and keep trying. It's your job to cheer them on and keep them going.
So it seems like our favorite Five Practices have a great fit with the never ending grind of competing priorities and increasing customer demands. If we lead well, we can create an environment where these issues can be tackled by many talented people and solved by the great teams we support as they drive forward.
Kelly Ann McKnight, a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge Workshop, is principal of Stone Ridge Consulting and an associate of The Performance Group where she focuses on bringing innovative training and coaching tools in leadership and management development, behavioral profiling, and team building to her clients. She can be reached at www.stoneridgeconsulting.ca.
Q: Inspiring—just what exactly does that mean?
A: Many people seek the answer to this question. And while we know people expect their leaders to be inspiring, there is a great deal of confusion about the subject and what it really means.
For example, this question took on new interest during the 2008 Presidential campaign. Covering Barack Obama's grand speeches about change, reporters constantly referred to how inspiring he was. Although a number of followers were tremendously excited about what an Obama-presidency could become, he also had critics who referred to him as a Messiah-wannabe. They saw him as nothing more than empty suit of words and were not moved. On the other hand, his opponent, John McCain, was seen by many as boring with many news commentators noting that his nomination acceptance speech was the worst ever given. By the same token, there were millions watching his speech who would tell you that his account of his time in captivity and how it shaped his love for country was one of the most inspiring moments they had ever witnessed.
Yes, partisan politics played a role in these examples. But politics alone doesn't explain the difference in perception.
Over the years, I have learned a few things about this topic and hope that these insights might be helpful in answering this question. While neither perfect nor all-encompassing, these observations have proven to be consistently true in my experience.
Q: The Leadership Challenge is among the most comprehensive, clear, and practical books on leadership I have ever read. Through many readings, I have discovered aspects of leadership I had never considered before as well as those I'd only imagined or considered as abstract perceptions. However, there is still one factor that inhibits me from fully engaging in the leadership challenge: my sense of being an ordinary person, no more or less intelligent than others, always makes me ask, why should anyone follow me? Why should others listen to my ideas when they have their own mind to listen to? Why should I envision a future for others, if this will lead them to follow my path instead of a path of their own design?
A: Two quick thoughts on your question. First, leadership has to start somewhere, and with someone. So, why not with you and your ideas? If you have the courage, the sense of direction, and the internal drive and motivation to achieve results, why not begin the journey by setting an example (leading the way)? The Leadership Challenge, after all, is fundamentally about how ordinary people exercise leadership to get extraordinary things done by establishing the foundation of credibility and then putting The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® into action each and every day.
Second, leadership is not all about the leader's vision. Of course, an essential part of effective leadership is the ability to demonstrate–in action and words–that the vision you have for the future is where others want to go as well. But getting there takes more than an individual leader and more than just a single idea or dream. Consider that you may get something started – a change initiative, for example, that is rooted in your personal passion and credibility. Based upon input, involvement, and feedback from others, what might have begun as "your idea" becomes "our idea." The future you may have first envisioned has no doubt morphed into a shared vision that incorporates the dreams and aspirations of others, which is precisely how leaders, in the final analysis, turn followers into leaders themselves.
If you are inclined to explore this issue further, you also may find reading A Leader's Legacy helpful. In this book, my co-author, Jim Kouzes, and I explore a number of topics, including the very notion of how leadership is not just about one leader's vision, why it takes courage to –make a life,– how to liberate the leader in everyone, and ultimately, how the legacy you leave is the life you lead.
Q: Recently, Harvard Business Review published an article about research conducted at INSEAD on 360-degree evaluations (specifically, the Global Executive Leadership Inventory). The results show that women tend to score better than men in almost every leadership category, except for Envisioning, and the article went on to offer three theories as possible explanations: 1) women use a different process for shaping the future, 2) women don't feel it is appropriate to use vague ideas when planning for the future, or 3) women may not see the value in a vision. What do you think of this? What does the LPI data tell you?
A: While the battle between the genders continues to range on, let me go out on a limb here and make one of those "blinding flashes of the obvious" statements like: males and females have different strengths, in general. The same can be said for tall people and short people. And green people and purple people–even Jim Kouzes and I–have different strengths–in general.
There is no formula for explaining 100 percent of the variance around leadership effectiveness, including our own Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. What we've generally found is that effective leaders are the ones who can engage most in The Five Practices?and this is independent of gender (indeed of a whole range of demographic and organizational factors).
For example, our own recent analysis of LPI data reveals statistically significant differences between males and females, but ones that may have little practical significance. A comparison of 7400 men with 4600 women on the LPI-Self found no differences on the leadership practices of Challenging and Inspiring (this latter finding is in direct contradiction to the HBR-reported study). Females reported engaging in Modeling, Enabling and Encouraging more than their male counterparts empirically. But consider what the practical implications of those differences really mean (on Modeling for females, 45.95; for males, 45.24). The scores from female observers about their leaders are empirically higher than those of male observers but is this because of real differences in the behavior of their leaders or a methodological artifact that females give higher scores than do males of other people?
We also just completed a four-year long study of leadership development involving college students. In their first year, females and males reported no difference in their practice of Inspiring, Enabling and Encouraging. Males viewed themselves as more engaged in Modeling than females, while females viewed themselves as engaged more in Challenging than their male counterparts. However, by the time these same students were in their senior year, there were no statistically significant differences between their engagement as leaders, based upon gender. As a side note, this study showed that the leadership development intervention for all of these first-year students resulted in a statistically significant increase in their self-reported leadership practices by the time they were seniors.
So, if gender makes a difference (?), the real point is that in developing effective leaders we must pay a great deal of attention and create a deep understanding of the strengths and areas of improvement necessary for each person –as an individual– to unleash and enhance his or her existing talents.
Barry Z. Pozner is Dean of the Leavey School of Business and Professor of Leadership at Santa Clara University where he has received numerous teaching and innovation awards. He is co-author of The Leadership Challenge and A Leader's Legacy.
Q: I have always thought that the key to successful leadership is influence, not authority. Do you agree?
A: The answer to that question, it seems to me, lies in whether the goal is to get others to work from a place of compliance or from a place of commitment. I believe that is the difference between influential leadership and authoritative leadership. Working within an influential leadership model, committed employees will give up discretionary time to solve problems, serve customers, and think creatively. On the other hand, people working under authoritative leadership– or –command and control, as we more commonly know it will work to achieve compliance, doing only what needs to be done to get by.
It is well documented that organizations perform better when all employees work collaboratively across organizational lines, and are allowed to voice their opinions and have healthy open discussions. Leaders who are great at listening to diverse opinions and can facilitate teams in moving toward solutions–without 'telling' team members what to do–are leaders of influence that can create positive working environments, remove organizational obstacles, and provide tools employees need to perform their jobs effectively. Influential leaders create environments that are:
In return, employees will use their talents and skills to achieve the mission and vision of the organization. This is especially true of younger workers coming into the workforce today who do not respond well to –command and control– leaders or to those who merely exert their authority. They want freedom and control over their areas of responsibility and to use their talents and skills to solve problems. Gen X and Gen Y are motivated through teamwork, with fewer rules and goals. What they don't want is to be micro- managed by a leader constantly telling them what to do and how to do it. Authoritative leaders who attempt to control the organization and the people who work in it will find that employees disengage and are less committed to helping the organization achieve its goals. Leading from a place of authority does not create the trusting environment required for success. Instead it often leads to second-guessing, potential hidden agendas, and a less productive workforce.
Effective leaders help people understand how their contributions fit into the broader vision and inspire the team to achieve the greater good of the organization. Inspiration is not mandated, dictated or driven by authority. It is achieved by enlisting others, touching the hearts of employees while engaging their brains–through the influence of leaders.
While authoritative leadership only has room for one leader, influential leadership allows the leader in everyone to be brought forward. In today's fast-paced, rapidly changing environment, everyone has to be a leader.
Q: Can the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) dimensional scores be aggregated into one numeric score without violating the validity of the instrument? I have only seen dimensional scores used in studies for comparisons, but never an aggregate.
A: A number of researchers have combined The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® into a single measure and labeled it Transformational Leadership. Generally, researchers have found this single measure to have acceptable psychometric properties and significantly correlate with positive individual and organizational outcomes. (Abstracts of these studies, among many others, can be found in the research section of The Leadership Challenge® website.
From an empirical perspective, however, when The Five Practices are merged into a single measure much of the particular variance–regarding which practice or individual leadership behavior in a given situation is having the most impact–is lost. Similarly, from a developmental or educational perspective it is more difficult to teach "Transformational Leadership" as an overall concept versus The Five Practices.
Barry Z. Pozner is Dean of the Leavey School of Business and Professor of Leadership at Santa Clara University where he has received numerous teaching and innovation awards. He is co-author of The Leadership Challenge.
Q: I recently used the LPI with a group of 25 people. Because this was an introduction to The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, they took the LPI Self. When compared to the normative data, the vast majority of the group fell in the "low" or "mid–range. As I am quite familiar with normative data and various 360 tools, I found it unusual to see so many folks fall in the –low– range. To what might this be attributed?
A: Although there is no known reason why the LPI scores from your group fell predominately in the low to moderate range, there is some good news in this somewhat unusual outcome. These scores suggest that many in your group could realize significant improvement in their effectiveness as leaders if they are committed to such an effort.
The LPI data is quite clear: effective leadership behaviors can be learned and practiced by anyone dedicated to becoming a more effective leader. Based on over 30 years of research, we know that the 30 leadership behaviors that are measured in the LPI apply to any leader at any level in any organization. And the more frequently leaders engage in each of these leadership behaviors, the more effective they are–both personally and organizationally. In this way, you have discovered a group of potential leaders who could benefit from exploring more deeply the Five Practices and taking on the challenge of leadership.
Q: Our CEO is pushing us to provide some objective data showing that the LPI is having an impact on the organization and producing more than just anecdotal success stories among individuals who have taken the LPI. How can our company be assured that the LPI is affecting leadership behaviors within the organization and, as a result, our corporate culture?
A: First of all, anecdotal success stories give voice to real people, with real passion and enthusiasm for The Five Practices®. Enthusiastic reception of the LPI by those taking the assessment is an endorsement that has merit in itself. In addition, the transformation that occurs in how individuals work frequently carries over into their personal lives?a result often reported by those who embrace the principles of The Leadership Challenge.
However, the LPI, which is backed by over 30 years of original research, also lends itself easily to the challenge from your CEO: to provide objective data that demonstrates the change occurring in your organization's culture.
In order to document the changes that the LPI produces in leadership behaviors of individuals as well as across the organization, there are several requirements:
Bottom line, your CEO's request is not unreasonable. In fact, it represents a challenge that your leadership development team can welcome?especially when they know there is a plan in place for implementing the LPI with vision and commitment to long-term organizational change.
Fine Points Professionals is The Leadership Challenge® Authorized Service Center, experts in workshop and assessment administration, and a Platinum Sponsor of last month's Forum 2009 in Chicago. Samples of the Custom Group LPI Reports mentioned in this article are provided by Fine Points Professionals and can be found at www.finepointsprofessionals.com. For additional information or questions about these reports, please contact email@example.com or 513.793.9144.
Q: I’ve had discussions with a colleague in the United Kingdom about extending the study of leadership using the LPI model to Britain. He doesn't believe the items in the LPI related to the practice Encourage the Heart are valid for Britain. Have you or anyone you know done any work in the UK with the LPI? Any info would be helpful.
A: Let's consider what seems like the underlying question: Are Brits and Yankees the same when it comes to leadership? Context matters, in the same way that people that work in banking may be different from people in sports administration. So perhaps the question isn't whether we are the same or different but, —Does leadership matter to British people? Do the Five Practices and, in particular, the practice Encourage the Heart matter?—
The empirical answer is YES.
It is true that people in the US engage in each of the Five Practices more frequently than do their counterparts in the UK. However, just as it is true on this side of the pond, the more frequently leaders in the UK are reported to be engaging in the Five Practices the more positive and engaged are their constituents (followers). And isn't that the most important question, after all?
Using a sample of over 6,700 respondents from Britain, regression analysis confirms that the Five Practices explain about 20% of the variance on a ten-item scale (referred to as "positive work attitudes"). While Model the Way enters the equation first, Encourage the Heart enters next and makes a statistically significant additional contribution to explained variance.
For the most recent update on the psychometric properties of the LPI, visit The Leadership Challenge website or the Rants and Raves section of this newsletter.
Barry Posner is a Professor of Leadership at the Levey School of Business and Professor of Leadership at Santa Clara University, where he was Dean of the School for 12 years. He is co-author of The Leadership Challenge.
Q: Do you know of any YouTube or video clips (movies, etc.) that are current and applicable examples of the practice of Challenge the Process? I’m looking for some innovative examples.
A: Film and TV clips are my favorite way to demonstrate The Five Practices® in workshops. Rather than sitting through a theoretical lecture about concepts of leadership, participants enjoy entertaining examples of what The Five Practices look like in action.
When selecting clips, I look for scenes that not only depict a leader modeling one or more of The Five Practices, but also show how other characters respond favorably to the leader's behavior. I also make a point to look for examples that reflect ethnic and gender diversity.
Here are four of the scenes (described by numbers and titles as shown on their DVD menus) that I've found most effective for launching discussions about Challenge the Process:
In addition to these films, if you find some YouTube clips you'd like to use but can't count on Internet access during your presentation, check out www.youtubekeep.com. This application allows you to download and save any YouTube video in high-quality (iPod compatible) and high-definition (HD) format.
Before presenting any portion of a film, be sure to check with the Motion Picture Association of America for their latest guidance on public performance use of films. The Federal Copyright Act requires such licensing in most non-academic settings. A helpful explanation and resources are posted at www.mpaa.org/.
Don't let the licensing requirements scare you off; they're easy to address. Movies can make training more applicable and more fun, especially if you mix in plenty of comedies between the more powerful dramas — and serve popcorn!
With nearly 20 years of experience, Michelle Poché Flaherty has held leadership positions in federal, state, and local government. She currently serves as the Organizational Development Manager for the City of Rockville, Maryland.
Q: Morale in our organization is at an all-time low since we have been through a downsizing. How do I turn the morale issue around?
A: I hear a lot about morale and motivation, from leaders who want to know how to motivate employees and how to raise the level of morale throughout their organizations. The economic downturn has forced many organizations to make some tough decisions, one of which is around talent. While some have taken the route of downsizing, others have tried to utilize their talent in other ways.
Regardless of which tactic your organization has taken, now is the time to develop real relationships with people. Put down the blackberry, cell phones and give people your undivided attention. Have conversations about what they feel, what ideas they may have about the future of the company. Find out the real source of the morale issue. It may not be what you think, but you will only know by asking. You might get a laundry list of issues, so try to work on the top three by enlisting help from the team. Showing progress on the most critical issues lets people know that their voices have been heard.
Focusing on short-term goals, while keeping the long-range goals in view, will help people have small wins along the way. Help others reconnect to the vision—and that means you may have to recast a short-term vision for people to rally around.
In tough times, it is always good to focus on others as well as yourself. Consider working together on a community project or another project that brings the team together to do good for someone else.
Finds reasons to celebrate together and recognize individuals. Add an element of fun to the workplace by asking people what they would like to do. Building morale takes time, but it also changes one person at a time. That is why it is important to build relationships, keep open communication channels, and build a collaborative vision.
Lastly, stay positive and authentic yourself as you work through these leadership challenges.
Valerie Willis is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and principal of Valarie Willis Consulting in Loveland, OH, where she focuses on strategic management consulting. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What key factors should be considered when determining how to present The Five Practices model in an eLearning environment?
A: The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® is a robust model for designing and delivering a virtual learning program.
The first step involves choosing between synchronous (facilitator-led) training or asynchronous training modules. Is the program designed to be individually received or broadcast to a room of people? As I’m sure we all can agree, The Five Practices evokes rich discussion, which we believe is best supported by the synchronous approach. Starting from the well-known 16- or 24-hour live classroom delivery of The Leadership Challenge, the virtual facilitator-led format makes interaction with the facilitator and collaboration between students similar to the classroom experience.
The tools available during synchronous training include chatting, polling, emoticons, surveys, breakout rooms, and streaming audio and video, among others. But designing a virtual learning program goes beyond planning how to use the technology. The design needs to be focused on the learner’s engagement. In a virtual event, what is presented on screen becomes more important as that there is no in-person facilitator whose body-language or movements might be watched that would otherwise draw the participant in.
For example, the virtual module of Inspire a Shared Vision, from The Leadership Challenge, is enriched by a fully developed graphical story, where "driving through the fog" becomes an interesting and evocative storyline when told with graphics rather than words alone.
Reflecting on the foundations of credibility, The Leadership Challenge teaches us that credibility begins with showing up as honest, forward looking, inspiring, and competent. We have all sat through a "Death by PowerPoint" presentation where a likely credible-in-person leader shows him/herself to be woefully underprepared to meet the expectations of the audience. A credible TLC virtual facilitator must be disciplined in content knowledge, skillful in the use of virtual technologies yet flexible enough to "go with the flow" during the live session...all of these driven by the desire for participants to learn.
Nancy Duling is a Certified Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, developer of The Leadership Challenge Webinar Series, and a member of the consulting team at FlashPoint. Lauren Parkhill is Marketing Manager at FlashPoint, A Leadership Challenge Preferred Provider.
Q: Could you tell me how to interpret the completed LPI Observer questionnaires? For example, if the final mark is 50, what does that really mean? Is it possible to simply say (just an example) 30-40 is poor, 40-50 is acceptable, 50-60 is outstanding?
A: A reasonable question—such as a scholar might approach the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI). However, from a practical standpoint or for purposes of leadership development, we do not categorize individuals or their responses to the LPI questionnaire using words such as "above average" or "below average" or "weak" or "strong." The important thing to remember about the LPI assessment is that it is based on a frequency scale—a ranking that measures how often a leader engages in any one of the 30 behavioral statements. It is not a measure of how pleased one is with their own performance or how satisfied an observer is of the behavior of the leader being assessed.
Our view is that results data from the LPI, overall, represent a baseline for each individual on how frequently he or she currently exhibits key leadership behaviors. Wherever that line is—whether it is 50 or 20— it is not a measure against an ultimate number, say 100. Leadership is more like a race in which there is no finish line, and the best leaders are constantly learning and striving to do better (engaging more frequently) in these leadership practices.
That said, researchers have looked at the distribution of scores for each practice (because the mean and standard deviations for each vary) and have attached labels to them. And you, of course, are welcome to do the same. However, it would be most accurate to refer to these descriptively in empirical terms, rather than terms that describe effectiveness (e.g., poor, acceptable). In this way, you might refer to responses as "above or below the mean," rather than low or high scores.
Barry Posner is Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years, at Santa Clara University. He is co-author of over twenty books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including The Leadership Challenge (now in its 4th edition).
Q: Whenever I ask for feedback, people around me will never tell me anything. Their eyes go right down toward their feet, or they say everything is fine. What am I supposed to do?
A: When receiving LPI feedback, many people have bumped into our old friend, question # 16, which reads: "Asks people for feedback on how my actions affect other peoples’ performance." Across the database, this is the lowest rated item on the inventory. This question also is ranked among the lowest with the vast majority of people to whom I provide LPI feedback. And this is a common question I frequently hear about this item, especially from bosses.
First, accept the fact that somewhere in this silence lurks an issue of trust. The trust issue may not even be much about you. People may be hesitant to respond because they witness integrity issues in the broader organization, or because they were punished for being candid in previous, similar experiences. However, do not assume that you are the victim of other circumstances and not the cause! You must accept that in some way, you are contributing to their reticence.
One of the biggest factors in trust is intentions. Think about how willing you are to totally commit yourself, if you question or doubt someone else’s intentions or motives? The voice in your head poses some pretty thoughtful questions when this occurs. "What is really going on here? Is she trying to sacrifice me to make herself look good? What is the real reason he is asking me to get involved in this project?" You know the questions, because you have likely been in a situation where you have heard them in your head.
So perhaps you are not getting a response from others when you ask for feedback because they are too busy trying to answer similar questions about your intentions in their minds – "why am I really being asked for this feedback" or "is it absolutely safe to be truthful?" Think about the caution flags in your head when someone else, especially a boss, asks you to be genuinely forthcoming about his/her deficiencies? It is not easy, is it?
In the end, it is leaders who must make it easier and safer. With that in mind, here are some immediate options you can try:
And then a few last reminders. First, give people some extended time to think about and prepare their responses. Even the stereotypical high extravert, who enjoys the noise of immediate conversation, might appreciate the pause, so as to not feel being put on the spot. Extended time here means later in the day or week, not in the next 5 seconds.
Finally, continue to do what you can to demonstrate the integrity of your intentions to improve, by taking action and publicly reporting back. Don't ask for feedback only after you receive LPI feedback. Make it part of your monthly meetings. Periodically, let others know what you are attempting to do to change and what you continue to struggle with. Continue to ask for help. And good luck.
Steve Coats, a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Certified Master, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For nearly twenty years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers around the world in leadership development, team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. Steve can be reached at email@example.com.
Q: How do you re-engage once gung-ho workshop attendees who have "fallen off the wagon" 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years later?
A: We often experience what a colleague calls "training afterglow" following a Leadership Challenge session. Participants leave, action plan in-hand, and get down to work. We receive encouraging emails about their progress and all looks great! Fast forward six months, the ember fades a bit.
One of the principles underlying The Leadership Challenge model is that the Five Practices need to be performed frequently so that leadership becomes habitual and the default reaction to whatever opportunity or challenge a leader might face. But old habits are hard to break. When situations arise and chaos ensues, it is not uncommon for participants to fall back to the habits of the past.
In my work, we have used several techniques with clients to keep people engaged, including:
Of course, we never miss an opportunity to Encourage the Heart of those who constantly pursue their next personal best!
Michael Neiss is a Certified Master and a recognized leadership expert with a decidedly practical approach to leadership and management development. A consultant, educator and coach, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do I introduce The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® to attendees prior to a workshop or to persons who will not have the opportunity to attend a workshop?
A: The Leadership Challenge eLearning Program! Co-developed with award-winning e-learning developer Enspire Learning, this new Leadership Challenge resource is a 130-minute introductory-level modular e-learning course based on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® (the core Leadership Challenge model). Working individually, employees will engage with the content through a story-based scenario, creative interactivities, and multimedia. Each Practice module includes didactic learning, photo-based case studies and stories, and basic interactivities such as multiple-choice questions, matching quizzes, self-reflection exercises, and opportunities for personal application of the concepts.
The program begins with an Orienteering module: a welcome video message from Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, an overview of the model, and an introduction of the workplace characters and their story. Learners are asked to write out their own Personal Best Leadership Experience and a Current Leadership Challenge that they will work through as they progress through the modules. The program then takes learners through each of the Five Practices: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. A Commitment module concludes this e-learning program, encouraging learners to continue their leadership journey with specific goals and an action plan. To view a video clip featuring more information about this program, click here.
Q: How do I use The Leadership Challenge to develop senior leaders in the healthcare arena?
A: The Leadership Challenge is an extremely appropriate model for developing leadership skills in administrators and clinicians within healthcare organizations—especially when you keep in mind the unique background and perspective many professionals working in this field bring to the leadership development experience.
Healthcare professionals, especially clinicians, are highly educated with little tolerance for the use of anecdotal information to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new treatment modality. In their work, they are well-grounded in evidence-based medicine and demand to see supporting research when deciding if a new treatment regime is worth trying. Lacking evidence, their willingness to try new forms of treatment is limited at best.
Professionals within the healthcare arena approach leadership development using this same logic. As a result, one of the most successful strategies is to underscore the evidence-based research that supports The Five Practices model.
A significant challenge when teaching healthcare administrators about leadership is in capturing their attention and educating them fully on the important role effective leadership can play throughout the organization. Because The Leadership Challenge is an evidence-based model for practicing leadership—and there is plenty of research to support that claim—it lends itself to being a perfect model for capturing a healthcare professional's attention.
Credibility is important, whether teaching others about leadership or when writing a book about leadership. The fact that The Leadership Challenge is based on over 30 years of research gives this book instant credibility for audience members whose professions are heavily grounded in research.
From my own experience, for example, I had just completed teaching a three-hour leadership block of instruction to 150 young physicians. Several approached me asking about the evidence that supported The Five Practices model. They wanted to be sure that this wasn't just somebody's idea of what leadership meant to them. Instead, empirical proof was what they were after. At first, I was taken aback as I hadn't thought about this model being well-grounded in research. I stumbled through a response until one of the physicians asked for the very best book they could read about leadership that was researched-based. As soon as the question was asked, I knew. I had failed to appeal to the essential element they needed to know. I quickly recovered and explained that this model of leadership was not just the thoughts and experiences of Dr. Posner and Mr. Kouzes but was based entirely on over 25 years of research. I knew then that the next time I was to speak to an audience whose professional participants were trained in the sciences, I had to emphasize evidence-based fundamentals of this model.
In this recent experience of mine, I had forgotten how critical it is to know your audience. For some audiences, The Five Practices model has face validity and stands on its own. It simply makes sense on the surface. For other audiences, face validity is not enough. While the model might make great sense, it is not credible—in and of itself—unless the audience first understands the research supporting it.
The good news is that The Leadership Challenge meets the needs of both audiences—and, in particular, the specialized, science-educated professionals within the healthcare field.
Dr. Jody Rogers is a Professor at Trinity University, Board Certified in Health Administration, and leads the Army Medical Department Executive Skills Program. A Certified Master-in-Training, he also teaches in two graduate programs and speaks nationally on the topic of leadership in healthcare. He can be reached at JODY.ROGERS1@us.army.mil.
Q: I just started The Leadership Challenge journey. I am a day and a half into the program and am really impressed with the content and your book. I am curious to find out if we can compare our ratings to other leaders we might want to emulate. Could I compare and get the deltas between my Leadership Behaviors Ranking and theirs? Is there a way for you to generically post the averages of leaders so that The Leadership Challenge® Workshop attendees could map themselves against fantastic leaders? This comparison could help all of us grow in many ways?
A: Thanks for your note and glad to hear that you are enjoying and prospering from The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. Your idea is an interesting one but raises the philosophical question of "what defines success" as a leader? We comment on this notion in both The Leadership Challenge and Credibility. The point is that there is no perfect score, alas, no perfect leader. We all have our flaws, flat sides, areas for improvement. We are all human.
We have never had a leader who has given him or herself a score of 10 on all thirty statements on the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI). We have never had a leader receive a score of 60 on each leadership practice from every one of their constituents. When a leader receives a score of 60 from a constituent he/she often ignores it because they realize that (a) they are not perfect and (b) feel that this respondent did not give enough consideration to their feedback and behavior in order to differentiate. Indeed, some of the lowest LPI scores (Self) that I have seen have come from some of the people I most admire as leaders. They know that the more they know, the more there is to know.
Philosophically, Jim and I have maintained that leaders are learners, and that the best leaders are always learning and open to learning. This means that they are in search of perfection, never believing that they are perfect. We believe that everyone's LPI scores, no matter what their baseline, can be improved. For these reasons we do not postulate a perfect score, an idealized score or set of scores, or publish the highest scores ever received or the scores of "famous" (well-known or public) figures.
There is no point in comparing yourself to any other leader. The point is how you can improve your own scores—that is, engage in these behaviors and practices more than you are currently doing.
Wishing you all the best in every leadership adventure.
Barry Z. Posner is Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years, at Santa Clara University. Together with Jim Kouzes, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over a twenty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development.
Q: I realize recognition is important to keep my staff motivated, but can it be overdone? I see other department heads coming up with all kinds of "rewards" programs that, frankly, just look plain silly to me. And I'm not sure they even work!
A: Certainly recognition can be overdone, even made trivial. However, there really is no denying that the need to be 'recognized' is essential to all of us. While every leader has his or her own approach to acknowledging the work of others—whether direct reports, colleagues, or teammates—the important thing to remember is that the recognition you offer needs to be genuine, sincere, and comfortable for you as the 'giver' of praise. It also must be personal and meaningful to the recipient. No silly "rewards" programs if that doesn't fit who you are and what your direct reports find important. However, the fact remains that the need to be recognized for who we are is part of our basic human nature.
Do others NEED praise and encouragement to do their work? No, probably not. But in research that Barry and I have conducted, when we asked respondents, "When you get encouragement, does it help you perform at a higher level?" about 98 percent said yes. Consider that against other research that reports about one-third of North American workers who say they never are recognized for a job well done while slightly more (44 percent) report that they receive little recognition for a job well done. Only 50 percent of managers say they give recognition for high performance. If you are working in an industry (which is nearly every industry these days) where loyal talent can mean the difference between staying viable through good times and bad, this could represent a powerful competitive advantage for you to positively impact your organization's bottom line.
Whatever approach you take to acknowledging others, keep a lookout for actions to recognize. Make it a habit to show your appreciation at least twice a day to two different people. Chances are you'll never hear complaints of being thanked too much.
Jim Kouzes is the Dean's Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. Together with Barry Posner, he is the author of The Leadership Challenge and over a twenty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Q: I know that social networking and virtual learning are all the latest rage, but I work with leaders who didn't grow up with this kind of technology. Do leaders really get as much out of e-learning programs as they would a traditional classroom workshop?
A: Based on our experiences at Sonoma Leadership Systems, the answer is a resounding yes. While more senior Baby Boomers may not have grown up in the swirl of online networking technology that is so familiar and comfortable to younger leaders, we have found that a carefully crafted, facilitator-led, live e-learning program delivers much of the same results as a traditional classroom experience—across multiple generations. For example, we offer an interactive, six-session web-based program based on The Leadership Challenge that provides participants with all the tools needed to start applying The Five Practices, including The Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) assessment tool. Although leaders are learning in the virtual space, they are fully engaged through the use of chatting, small group discussions, polling, and video examples. At the end of each training session, participants are challenged to practice one new leadership behavior during the following week and report their results back to the group at the next training session.
In the year that we've been doing these web-based live workshops, the feedback has been very positive. We've learned that participants use the time between sessions to really practice what they have learned and, as a result, the time in the virtual classroom is well spent. Leaders value learning with people from other organizations throughout the world, and all from the comfort and convenience of their home or office. In addition, if several people from an organization participate together there is the added benefit of group discussion in the intervening time between sessions.
Jeni Nichols is Queen of Connections at FlashPoint, a leading provider of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, training, and materials. She can be reached at www.flashpointleadership.com
Q: Why is there no option to select 'not applicable' when completing the LPI assessment?
A: As my co-author Jim Kouzes and I often say, "You cannot NOT communicate." Everything we do—and don't do—sends a message. This is especially true for leaders since they are always "saying" something by their actions or non-actions. Therefore, we don't provide an opt-out response of "not applicable" or "no opinion" on any of the LPI assessments for three important reasons:
Additionally, the psychometric properties of each of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® are based on scales that include responses to six statements (not five or four items). We know that the more items used to construct a scale, the more reliable it will be—that is, the more likely it measures what it purports to measure. In addition, all of the normative data is based on responses to all six statements that measure each leadership practice. If an individual did not have a response to one or more statements that comprise a practice, we would be less confident in both the reliability and validity of their data.
Given these three factors— 1) all 30 items are valid and reliable measures of leadership behavior; 2) behaviors are measured on a frequency scale; and 3) the observer has had direct experience with the leader—a "does not apply" response is not appropriate. If all three conditions are met, then a response from the observer should be possible.
Barry Posner is Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years, at Santa ClaraUniversity. Together with Jim Kouzes, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over a twenty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development.
Q: I don't consider myself a very imaginative person, so how can I be a better idea-generator?
A: Many leaders struggle with feelings similar to yours, feeling that others are so much more creative and innovative than they are. But in reality, studies show that leaders are not necessarily any more or less creative, imaginative, insightful-or intelligent, for that matter-than any other group of people. What leaders do excel at is what my co-author, Barry Posner, and I call 'outsight'. This is the ability to look outside of yourself and your experiences. So I have a couple of suggestions for you:
Gather together whatever you can find, sifting through the lot until you find one or adapt one to fit your particular challenges and opportunities.
Jim Kouzes cited by The Wall Street Journal as one of the twelve best executive educators in the U.S., is the Dean's Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. Together with Barry Posner, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over a twenty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development.
Q: We are a global company with employees scattered all over the world. We've got people in various time zones. And travel budgets are really tight. However, we do want to implement The Five Practices consistently across the organization. Any ideas on how we can get remote offices exposed to The Leadership Challenge?
A: Since we are becoming more and more global, many companies are facing this type of challenge. Fortunately, you have a number of options—one or several of which might work for you. For example, if you have people in some of your offices who are already familiar with The Five Practices model, The Leadership Challenge® e-learning Program could be a good option. With a little facilitation help, this 130-minute interactive and self-directed online course will get others up to speed on the model and the practices. The resident Leadership Challenge champion can pull together your other aspiring leaders for a locally-based leadership development focus. If you need help deciding if this is the best choice for your organization, there are Certified Masters available, many of whom have extensive experience in this area and can definitely provide you with assistance.
Another option is a 6-session, facilitator—ed, webinar series available from Sonoma Leadership Systems that can provide groups with the fundamentals of The Five Practices model.
Also, The Leadership Challenge® Workshop Online is the latest refinement of the proven The Leadership Challenge Workshop program and will be available this spring. This blended learning program pulls participants together in a virtual space. It creates an ongoing learning community dedicated to exploring the leadership potential of all attendees. During the program, participants are able to take what they learn, apply it in their work environments, and share the results with their community. This learning methodology helps reinforce the potential this powerful model has in driving results.
Leadership is not only everyone's business, it also is on everyone's mind. Bringing people together around a common language of leadership is key. Creating a space for them to practice is next: having a place for them to share what they learn, the challenges and rewards they face, the potential for change and improvement they see. Those are the critical elements to unlocking the door to substantive change. Reaching all of your organization's aspiring leaders in whatever remote location they may be at is not only a great notion, it's imperative—and very doable.
Beth High is President of HighRoad Consulting, a leadership development company, where she focuses on the challenges of leading effectively in the virtual environment. She also is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: It's fine to live out our values in good times, when business is up. But how do you maintain the focus on values in tough times, when financial results become the most important thing?
A: If you look at the business scandals that make the headlines, you'll find case after case of profits trumping ethical behavior. Look a bit deeper, however, and you'll find the financial consequences of these actions turned out to be disastrous—for investors and employees. A focus on profits at the expense of doing the right thing is a sure way to economic decline.
Of course, there are times when leaders have to make tough decisions about layoffs. But it's important to remember that only the most credible leaders can make these kinds of tough decisions and sustain credibility. You have to build your credibility over time so that when you do have to make the tough decision, you can say, "You'll have to trust me on this one." You have to accumulate and invest capital before you can withdraw. That's what's called "having a good credit rating."
In fact, it is precisely in tough times when we most need to focus consciously on values, because it is so easy to cut corners to make the numbers. For a manager, making the numbers might be enough, but financial success is not enough for a leader. A leader must also ensure the organization will survive over the longer term, even after a downturn. A company's reputation is tested in tough times. The winners never compromise their values. Instead, they discover innovative ways to prosper.
Jim Kouzes, cited by The Wall Street Journal as one of the twelve best executive educators in the U.S., is the Dean's Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. Together with Barry Posner, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over a twenty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development.
Q: I have recently been hired by an organization to lead a leadership development initiative and run a workshop for its senior leadership team. But now that I'm into it I realize that the client has a very different need and expectations of the outcome have changed. Any advice on how I might handle this situation?
A: In our line of work, as independent consultants and coaches, this type of situation happens often. The art of being flexible and maintaining a focus on meeting the client's needs is a critical skill that we always need to keep sharpening.
When working with a potential new client recently, I had a similar experience that might offer some insight. This was a hospital laboratory management association, a nonprofit, with oversight provided by a Board of Directors. The original goal was to bring leaders that were members of the association's Board together to discuss how to advance the concepts and practices of leadership among themselves and their association members. My contact, who had approached me about working with this association, had attended a Leadership Challenge workshop that I had led with another group—hence her request. So, in my original proposal I offered a modified workshop program.
As we met to finalize the agenda for the day of leadership work, the group shifted gears. Although I was ready to help the Board dive into developing their own leadership effectiveness and to take The Five Practices out to the broader membership, the Board wanted to focus on the association's current state and where they wanted to be in the foreseeable future. At the same time, others wanted to be sure that leadership was on the agenda and that a final product of the day included a leadership program that could be offered to member agencies.
Out of that collaboration came a one-day agenda that combines the best of both worlds: a morning spent exploring the association's past and present, using Appreciative Inquiry to define the elements of the group's vision of the preferred future; an afternoon using The Five Practices to carve out a plan to take the vision elements forward. Next steps brought Model the Way to the Board of Directors, Inspire a Shared Vision to the association's members, and Challenge the Process to address those elements that weren't working. Finally, Enable Others to Act and Encourage the Heart formed the basis of a plan that will take the association to the next level while introducing The Five Practices model that individuals and the whole group can use for both personal and group leadership.
Although clients that change their minds come from all industries—in all colors and stripes—I've found that this occurs more often with groups that have little time to talk together in depth (e.g., Boards of Directors that meet quarterly or once-a-month at most). They often don't discuss the organization's past, current issues and challenges, and their preferred future. But once the topic of leadership development is raised, there is often a hunger for more as they see the importance of crafting a compelling vision of the future state they would like to help the organization create.
Beverley Simpson is principal of Toronto-based Beverley Simpson Associates and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge. A nurse by training, she specializes in people, teams, and systems development in healthcare. She can be reached at email@example.com
Q: Of the Ten Leadership Truths, which are most important in our increasingly global society?
A: It's really tough to single out a few truths that are more important for the 21st century global leader, but I'll highlight two here:
The first is Credibility Is the Foundation of Leadership. This is fundamental, regardless of circumstance, but is even more evident in our daily lives with the global economic meltdown of the last two years. Trust and confidence in leaders of most major institutions have plummeted, and in some cases are at a 10-year low. Barry and I have said it many times, but it's worth repeating, especially in these times when people have become more cynical about their leaders and institutions: If people don't believe in the messenger, they won't believe the message. Leaders around the world have to work especially hard right now to earn back lost credibility and do a lot more to sustain it going forward.
A second truth that requires our attention right now is Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart. The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leaders. You have to take the long-term perspective. Gain insight from reviewing your past and develop outsight by looking around. The challenge right now is that because of global economic problems—as well as heightened uncertainty from terrorism, climate change, and other adversities that are plaguing our world—many leaders have become much more focused on short-term solutions. It is hard to think about five, ten, or twenty years down the road when you're worried about whether you'll have a job tomorrow. But, this is exactly why leaders need to be focused on the future. They need to inspire others to see what a better tomorrow will look like and to show people how they will be part of that picture.
Jim Kouzes, cited by The Wall Street Journal as one of the twelve best executive educators in the U.S., is the Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. Together with Barry Posner, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over a thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development.
Q: Can control and stability be identified as one of the challenges facing leadership? If yes, in what way?
A: It was time to depart from the known and venture into the uncertainty associated with launching a new firm. To make this transition successful, I turned to the most practical source for creating the extraordinary I know: The Leadership Challenge. The Five Practices model provided a clear and reassuring road map for navigating through the many thorny control and stability issues of this significant professional transition.
Model the Way: Selling my firm forced me to engage the first commitment of this practice—to find my voice by clarifying my personal values—and to deal with beliefs, perceptions, and values I hadn't given voice to. As to the second one—to set an example for others by aligning actions with shared values—I've learned that there are only three healthy options leaders have for making this commitment real. I call them the three Rs:
Choosing option three is a courageous act for any leader and requires clarity and commitment about one's core values. When I work with other leaders now, I ask them to show me how their values show up on a weekly basis. If they don't show up, the values espoused aren't really core values or a tremendous amount of energy is being expended to behave in ways misaligned with core values. In either case, there is a deeper conversation to be had.
Inspire a Shared Vision: Having a bigger yes to guide me was essential. I found myself no longer able to squelch the small inner voice saying; "you know this is not what you want." I needed a compelling and larger yes to say yes to. Otherwise, I would continue to say no to the changes I knew were awaiting me. This practice, for me, also is about having a compelling and inspiring yes that pulls me forward. Without this, I say yes to projects and people that require too much energy and leave me drained. To help me get clear about my bigger yes I asked three fundamental questions about my work:
Answering these questions gave me the resolve to take the next step on my journey.
Challenge the Process: This practice reminded me that searching for new opportunities, for experimenting, and taking risks is essential for leaders and would be essential in my transition. Reframing the challenges of non-compete agreements and client lists could be seen as limiting my success, or as a catalyst for me to become my best. I chose the latter.
It also reminded me of the importance of creating a next personal best. Without the framework of striving for a personal best it is far too easy to fall back on old patterns and simply replicate what had been done in the past.
Enabling Others to Act: Although this practice is focused on enabling employees or associates, it is equally powerful when directed to us as leaders. My next personal best required that I ask what needed to be done to launch an extraordinarily successful consulting practice. In order for me to do my best work I needed to hire the most successful coach and mentor I knew. Someone whose insight and expertise I trusted, who would help me overcome the inevitable obstacles.
Enabling leaders to act requires that leaders have a coach and/or mentor. Leadership is a lonely business and leaders need someone that is fully committed to helping them achieve something noteworthy and remarkable.
Encourage the Heart: I recently had the pleasure of sharing a podium with Roger Staubach, renowned quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys—a big day for me and a milestone in promoting my practice. But without missing a beat, when the event was over I was back in my office reviewing the speech, looking for what had gone well and what hadn't. I created an extensive list of what to "fix" and set out to do just that. And then I spoke with my mentor who admonished me for not taking time to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishment. Without my mentor's support, I wouldn't have celebrated my success. With my Scottish Catholic upbringing, I'd learned to place more emphasis on working hard and fulfilling obligations—the type of thinking that doesn't serve me well when striving for the extraordinary.
Leaders must find a way to celebrate accomplishments. Whether watching a matinee with the kids, enjoying a favorite bottle of wine or dinner with a significant other—a meaningful reward after accomplishing something noteworthy is essential. Without this recognition we become human doings versus human beings.
As leaders we understand the benefits of The Five Practices, but oftentimes neglect having them actively engaged day-to-day. If change is certain and growth is optional, having them alive in our work lives is guaranteed to enhance the growth of any leader.
Hugh Blane is President of Seattle-based Claris Consulting and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. A former Senior Consultant with The Tom Peters Group, his 27+ years of experience includes work inside such leading organizations as Spacelabs Medical, KPMG, Costco, Starbucks and Microsoft. He can be reached at Hugh@clarisconsulting.net.
This past week, a couple hundred people met just off the Magnificent Mile in Chicago to learn more about the Magnificent Methodology of leadership development called The Leadership Challenge. Those of you with whom we at ILA work are quite familiar with this body of work. I thought you might appreciate a quick summary of powerful lessons from the Forum. The first few are about the content, the others are some other valuable tidbits.
Mark your calendars now. The 2012 Forum, celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Leadership Challenge, is set for July 26 - 27, 2012 in San Francisco. Come and see what lessons you can learn.
Steve Coats a Leadership Challenge® Workshop Certified Master, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. Steve blogs at http://i-lead.com/blog and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is the future of leadership development?
A: During this year's Forum, we were excited to engage everyone in a creative and collaborative discussion about just what the future of leadership development will look like. With markers and stickers, pens and drawing paper we all participated in The Leadership Challenge World Café where we brainstormed ideas and images of the exciting and ennobling possibilities the years ahead might hold.
As we have discovered during our nearly 30 years of research, the content of what it takes to be an effective leader does not change all that much over time. What does change is the context. So while we are confident that The Five Practices model will continue to be as relevant and powerful in developing the next generation of leaders as it has been for previous generations, the way in which we provide opportunities for learning and practicing will continuously evolve. The delivery tools future generations will use to engage in developing their effectiveness as leaders will surely be quite different than those we know today. Among the changes, two developments offer exciting possibilities: the movement of computing to mobile devices and the evidence that leaders only improve if they engage in daily practice. We know from our colleagues in high technology that in the near future mobile devices will equal or surpass desktop computers as the primary platform for connecting with work and people. Equipped with social media and apps, mobile phones and tablets offer significant advances in the ways in which learners can practice and apply their leadership skills. Just imagine how they'll be able to get a calendar reminder about a commitment they made to act on one of the behaviors in a meeting they have that day. Or, how they'll be able to instantly access an inventory of options on how to handle a difficult leadership challenge they might be confronting. The possibilities are extraordinary.
In fact, there will soon be an app for The Leadership Challenge—a prototype of which was previewed at the Forum. Key features will help leaders keep connected to the practices and learnings of The Five Practices and will be instrumental in supporting the notion that leadership development is a process, not an event. Making leadership tools available—anytime, anywhere—to those who aspire to lead reinforces continual, daily growth. This easy accessibility also promotes another of our key messages: think of leadership as part of what you do, not something else that you do.
Jim Kouzes is the Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University (SCU). Barry Posner is the Accolti Professor of Leadership at SCU's Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years. Together they are authors of The Leadership Challenge and over a thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, which was just released this month.
It is easy to lead.....poorly. While leadership content is easy to understand, implementing leadership concepts can be extremely challenging and, unfortunately, too difficult for some.
Becoming an effective, if not great, leader takes focus, a well thought-out plan, and determination. It requires a strong foundation of self-knowledge—e.g., personal values, principles, vision, and goals—and a clear understanding of one's strengths and weaknesses in addition to a solid understanding of one's emotional intelligence.
As important as the leader's foundation is, creating or strengthening it isn't that difficult. It starts with asking a few critical questions, engaging in introspection, and through consistent feedback. When facilitating or coaching leaders wishing to enhance their skills, I always start by asking them to take several days to answer: Who am I?, Who are you?, and Who are we? Answers to these basic yet powerful questions will go a long way to solidify a leader's foundation.
The importance of answering the first question, "Who Am I?", cannot be overstated. Without a clear understanding of who the leader is, future leadership effectiveness is often short-lived and superficial; the ability to accomplish great goals will be severely weakened. Do you know your passions? Your vision, values, and beliefs? Your level of compassion for the organization and mission? How much are you willing to sacrifice for the organization? Answering these questions helps leaders understand their future role and the potential difference they can make.
The recent edition of Leader to Leader magazine (Spring 2011) reinforces the importance of self-discovery and introspection in developing our effectiveness as leaders. Included are two articles: one written by Richard Daft, the other by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner that addresses the importance of leader authenticity. Both articles focus on the importance of knowing yourself and advocate for one of Jim and Barry's key tenets of leadership development: one's leadership journey starts with an inner journey.
The second question aspiring leaders must ask is, "Who are you?". Once leaders have a solid understanding of who they are and what they plan to contribute in their leadership role, they must turn to understanding those they are leading. The most effective leaders know their people intimately, not superficially. They remember names—including those of family members. They learn what their colleagues' goals and desires are. They understand everyone's roles, and they work hard to ensure everyone knows the importance of their contribution to the organization. While it is often not advised to become friends with those we lead, a leader must always strive to be friendly with co-workers, direct reports, and all others with whom they work. Being "friendly" means getting to know people and working to support the dreams and aspirations of others.
The third and all-important question is, "Who are we?" Once we know who we are and who our colleagues are, as effective leaders we must begin the process of creating a team capable of meeting and/or exceeding job requirements. Leaders must see where everyone fits to form a highly functioning team that together accomplishes far more than what anyone could do individually. Creating such a team requires a leader who clearly articulates a vision, helps everyone understand their role, demonstrates what it will take to do the job well, ensures that all team members know how they will be held accountable, and determines how the team will be recognized and rewarded when the mission is accomplished. Team members who know their work matters and that their leader appreciates their contributions will work harder and longer than someone who thinks their contributions are not appreciated or valued. Having a clear understanding of and the ability to use The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® (Model The Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge The Process, Enable Others to Act, Encourage The Heart) is critical to defining "Who We Are."
Jody R. Rogers, Ph.D., FACHE is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® and Program Manager for the Army Medical Department Executive Skills Program. A Board Certified Healthcare Executive and Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), he and can be reached at Jrogers5@satx.rr.com.
Q: Questions about cross-cultural differences among leaders arise frequently when working with my large global clients. I've mostly seen studies that speak to differences that may or may not be present between, say, leaders in the U.S. vs. Europe or other highly developed countries. But my clients are much more interested to learn about what has been done to study leadership within different cultures and, in particular, within developing world cultures.
A: This is an area of leadership study that is of special interest to me and my co-author, Jim Kouzes, and one that we are continuing to explore through various research projects. For example, a research paper titled The Impact of Leadership Practices Within Cultures describes a study I recently conducted that investigated the behaviors of leaders across economically-distressed regions within Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Philippines. The purpose was to understand whether the impact of the leaders' behavior would be differentially affected by culture, and the psychometric properties of the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) in this setting.
Our findings support the viewpoint that there are a set of leadership behaviors (in this study represented by The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®), which are both universal and culturally-specific. In addition, the project offers several practical implications that your clients may find of interest:
Leadership made a difference, regardless of culture / country. The more that leaders (self) reported engaging in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® generally (and specifically Model The Way, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage The Heart) the more positive their attitudes toward work and their workplace.
Leadership also mattered for constituents. Constituents (observers) who reported their leaders as engaging most frequently in each of The Five Practices also provided significantly more favorable assessments of their leaders' effectiveness.
Neither gender nor age systematically affected the frequency to which leaders reported using any of The Five Practices.
While our findings support the explicit assumption that culture, as represented by national boundaries, will effect how leaders behave, the significance of this difference is minimized by the evidence showing that the impact of leadership behaviors is quite similar within each culture. For example, while a leader in Ethiopia might use a leadership practice less frequently than his or her counterpart in India, the affect this has on outcomes—e.g., engagement or positive work attitudes from a self-perspective, or effectiveness from an observer or constituent perspective—does not vary.
These findings suggest comparisons to others that show differences attributed to such "cultural" factors as:
why the frequency of leadership behaviors for engineering managers differ from finance managers?
why the frequency of leadership behaviors of health care professionals differ from business executives or school principals?
why the frequency of leadership behaviors for managers from small firms, as measured by number of employees, differs from those of very large-sized companies?
These "cultural" differences are not as significant, in a practical sense, as those that show how engaging in various leadership behaviors, regardless of setting, impacts important organizational and interpersonal outcomes.
Overall, the findings from this latest research project strengthen the argument that there are some universal principles, or better yet, processes of leadership that are relatively independent of culture, albeit not necessarily independent of context.
Barry Posner is the Accolti Professor of Leadership at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years. He has been a visiting professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Sabanci University (Istanbul), and the University of Western Australia. Together with Jim Kouzes, he is co-author of The Leadership Challenge and over a thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including the recently released Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It.
Q: How do I advise a leader who is concerned about employees taking advantage of company time (with internet, smart phone, email, etc.) and wants to micromanage "without micromanaging?"
A: This is actually a question about one of the most important aspects of leadership: it is all about relationships. Leaders have to build relationships with constituents that result in a clear understanding of expectations.
As we learn to operate within more of a virtual workplace and manage people who are not in physical proximity to the leader, this type of question, in fact, is becoming more and more prevalent. It is becoming more important than ever to be exceedingly clear about expectations. And to be as clear as possible, expectations must be discussed and agreed upon up front. Both the leader and the constituent must be clear on productivity goals—goals as measurable performance indicators that clearly identify what constitutes outstanding performance and what would be considered average performance.
In the research, we see many instances that demonstrate the importance of setting clear goals, plus feedback, in order to achieve results. You cannot have one without the other. Therefore, clear goals become the first way to avoid micromanaging. In this way leaders focus on the outcome and performance measures, and leave it up to the constituent to determine the means by which to achieve the results. Leaders who present themselves as coaches rather than directorial managers seem to have more success managing in this way.
In The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, we discuss this move from micromanaging to supportive and facilitative leadership mostly in the last two practices, Enable Others to Act and Encourage the Heart. In Enable Others to Act, it is especially helpful when understanding how leaders get and keep people in the "flow". Again, by knowing our constituents and building stronger relationships, we can determine with them whether they need more challenge in their job or they have the necessary skills to perform at an expected level. Optimal performance requires both continuous challenge and skill development to remain in the "flow" and having these coaching discussions on a regular basis can keep a leader from micromanaging tasks and focused on results.
In Encourage the Heart, an essential skill is to "Expect the Best" where successful leaders have high expectations of constituents and use this belief to help constituents set high goals for achievement. A great leader brings out the best in others by helping to set and give feedback on achieving stretch goals. Here the focus is on achieving the goal not standing over an individual's shoulder waiting for a mistake to be made.
Today's fast moving and technically-expanding world requires that leaders spend more time on results, not on the means. And that, in itself, requires a focus on the ever-important building of relationships. Strong relationships are what allow us to know what we need to do to help constituents get and stay engaged, and keep them motivated through the challenging work of building the skills they need to succeed. This is not an easy thing to do. And it is why it is a leadership challenge.
Stephen Hoel is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and president of Diversity Leadership Consultants, a leadership development organization focusing on improving the effectiveness of leadership and team skills. Experienced in both operations management and human resources with Walt Disney World Resort, Hilton, Marriott and other independent hotel and restaurant organizations, he can be reached at email@example.com.
We all know leadership is hard—rewarding, but hard. However, leadership in a Third World country is more difficult than we can even imagine as part of the Western world. Issues caused by systemic poverty provide challenges at every turn. Lack of education, infrastructure, and empowerment can breed hopelessness and doubt that things can ever be different.
But leadership springs up in unlikely places through unlikely people. It turns out you don't have to have a degree in Leadership Development to effect change in this world. You can grow up scavenging in the city's garbage dump and still find your voice and have a vision to change things. That's just what my friends, Yemamu Ahmed and Sisay Teni, have done. Since our first meeting in 2010, when I went to bring my adopted son home from Ethiopia, I have been impressed with their desire to make a difference in the lives of the people most vulnerable living in their community. When I returned recently to Ethiopia to spend two weeks with their organization, I was especially pleased to find The Five Practices very much alive and well.
Yemamu and Sisay grew up in a leper colony called Korah (meaning "cursed"), which sits on a garbage dump in Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa. Yemamu's mother has lost her leg and his father most of his eyesight due to leprosy. Sisay lost his father to the disease at a young age, leaving his widowed mother to care for him and his siblings with no means of income. In order to help sustain their families, Yemamu and Sisay spent their days and nights scavenging in the city's garbage dump for food or for metals and plastics they could sell for a small amount of money. They did this for years until someone sponsored them to go to school.
Now, they are giving back to the community they grew up in.
Where does one start to effect change when looking at a 100,000 person community that is barely surviving, whose members have been labeled as outcasts in their society: the poor, those living with HIV, the uneducated, diseased, and homeless? How do you Inspire a Shared Vision when no one wants to be inspired or feels there's nothing to be inspired about? In the case of Yemamu and Sisay, you Model the Way until people catch the vision and see the potential for change.
Yemamu knew what it was like to be hungry. And having identified the need, he put together a business plan for a center that would feed some of the most vulnerable children in Korah and applied for a NGO (non-government organization) status. He knew that hunger impacted so many other facets of a child's life. A hungry child is often weak and tired, making it extremely difficult to focus on school and learning. For children who are HIV+, it is crucial that their ARV drugs are taken with food in order for their bodies to absorb the medication.
As Yemamu began to seek out children who met the criteria for the program, he started where for him it all began: back at the garbage dump.
From the start, Yemamu established credibility with the children by seeking them out, coming to them in a place where no one else wanted to go—the 'messy' places of leadership, so to speak. Because of Yemamu's years at the garbage dump, they responded to him and willingly came with us to the Center to be registered for the program. Since then, others have accompanied Yemamu, to visit the children and create relationships with them. And as Yemamu and Sisay have invested in people and exposed them to the vision, they have become engaged, willing participants in changing the future for these children.
One of the things I've always loved about The Five Practices model is how interconnected each of the practices are. When one is implemented, there seems to be a natural progression into the others. For example, as Yemamu began to truly Encourage the Hearts of the people he wanted to lead and to Modeled the Way for them, his actions inspired others to believe that the vision of improving the community was possible. And once they saw the possibility, Yemamu could Enable Others to Act.
Others became engaged once they received encouragement from Yemamu. It all started there. People wanted to know that they were cared about. One striking example of what I observed was Yemamu's relationship with one particular family. We met a mother with five children who had recently lost her husband—a blind man who earned money begging on the streets to feed his family. Over a year ago, her 17-year-old daughter, Etanaite, was raped and bore a child as a result. Due to the stigma associated with rape in this area of Ethiopia, the entire family was outcast. No one spoke to them, helped them, or cared about them. Having heard of this family's struggles, Yemamu went to meet them to see if he could help (there it is...Encouraging the Heart). The family was incredulous that anyone would be concerned about their well-being.
When I accompanied Yemamu on a visit to the family, their living conditions were unimaginable. Seven people lived in a 6' x 8' room, with one single make-shift bed.
The baby was drinking out of a bottle that had been found in the garbage dump. The mother was wearing rags. And the now 18-year-old Etanaite was commuting daily to work in the countryside earning $26 a month—half of which went toward her long transportation to work. The rest of her income paid the rent. Nothing was left for food.
Yemamu and Sisay continued to visit the family. They enrolled the children in the feeding program and helped Etanaite see that despite the tragedy of her rape, there was reason to hope. She truly could have a future. They offered her a job cooking and cleaning at the Center, paying her twice what she was making before. Etanaite now can provide more for her family and contribute in a meaningful way by giving back to her own community. And her mother will no longer have to go scavenging in the garbage dump to make ends meet. Yemamu and Sisay gave Etanaite an opportunity for work that will literally transform her life and the lives of her family members. They also gave her something else: they fully engaged her in the possibilities for the future and enabled her to act.
In just two short weeks in Ethiopia, there were hundreds of examples of The Five Practices in action. Maybe not in the traditional business settings we are accustomed to but, rather, in the city garbage dump, the small homes of the socially outcast, and on the streets of Addis Ababa. It was a privilege to watch the humility with which Yemamu and Sisay led the people in their community toward hope. Children's very livelihoods and futures are being forever changed because two young men are willing to go where no one wants to go and to do the hard work of helping people see that there is another way—that poverty does not have to define them. Talk about inspiring!
Amy Savage is Principal at Fine Points Professionals LTD, a Leadership Challenge® Authorized Service Provider. In addition to her professional work, Amy enjoys using her voice to advocate for vulnerable children in Africa. If you'd like to encourage the hearts of the two young men featured in this article and support them in their leadership journey to help feed, educate, and train the 60 children in their program, feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What do you do when the organization's recognition programs reward the accomplishments of only the most visible workers (like salespeople) and people in the background feel turned off by all kinds of recognition?
A: As a leader you may not have much influence on the organizational programs that do not recognize the right things. But you can make sure that you recognize the right things in your own groups. Instead of getting caught up in trying to fix the organization, practice some of the behaviors listed in the LPI with your people. You have the ability to make your people feel very special—including those steady, solid people behind the scenes.
Take time each day to think about who you might want to recognize, how to recognize them in a way that's important to them, and when and/or where to recognize them. In addition to your direct reports or teammates, what about encouraging your boss or others up the senior management ladder? What might be some appropriate ways to do that? And what might the benefits be?
Showing appreciation and celebrating values and victories creates a spirit of community. It's important to remember that the practice Encourage the Heart is all about recognizing both individuals and the team as part of that community. And there are virtually unlimited ways to demonstrate that you appreciate everyone's contributions and accomplishments. Make it real. Make it timely. Make it meaningful. And never underestimate the power of a genuine and heartfelt "thank you."
Terri Armstrong Welch is an independent writer and editor contributing to the marketing and editorial programs at Pfeiffer, including The Leadership Challenge product line. A former member of the Jossey-Bass team, she can be reached at email@example.com and at http://yourrockstarwriter.wordpress.com.
Developing and nurturing our leaders is something that we don't always do very well in nursing, healthcare, or in many other professions. Selecting new leaders, orienting them properly, and mentoring them are areas where we often fall short. We usually choose a new leader who has excelled and displayed competence in a particular task or portion of the business. What we often do not consider is their capacity to lead. Do they have the ability to interact with others in a way that inspires and creates engagement? Is there evidence that their guidance allows others to flourish? There are plenty of examples to suggest that when leaders demonstrate these skills and abilities, people become invested in the success of the organization as well as their own. And in turn, happier and healthier work environments are created that generate greater innovation and better outcomes, which, ultimately, are fiscally sound and socially responsible.
Within the healthcare industry, there are myriad challenges to developing effective leaders. And as we began working in this field, we came to believe that teaching and role modeling the principles of caring, blended with the principles of leadership, could truly change the culture of an organization.
But what would a Caring Leadership Model look like? Was it really necessary?
These were a few of the questions we asked ourselves. We recognized that there were already numerous models and theories that could inform our thinking on how leaders should practice in a healthcare environment. But, we also felt strongly that there was a real need for a model that integrated leadership and caring, since in healthcare we are affecting people's lives on a very human level, every day, and at very vulnerable times. The model we began to envision would be a set of values that addressed our leadership responsibilities and also aligned with our intrinsic motivation to work within an industry that is so critical to the health and well-being of the communities we serve.
Dr. Jean Watson, Theory of Human Caring/Caring Science
Dr. Watson's work is built around being heart-centered and authentically present, in the moment, in the work we do, which ultimately is a process of being and becoming. Her theory of human caring--preserving humanity and human dignity--has evolved into a philosophy with 10 enhanced Caritas Processes that address the essence of caring and provide practitioners a solid foundation upon which to carry out their work. (Caritas, from the Latin, means to cherish, appreciate.) A Caritas Practitioner functions from a caring consciousness that permeates from their soul and can be felt by the recipient.
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge
Kouzes and Posner's work in the leadership realm speaks for itself. Based on the belief that leadership is, above all, a relationship that is values-based with a foundation of credibility. The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model is easy to understand, appropriate for use in any environment, easy to remember, and practical and realistic. An important message is that mastery of leadership requires mastery of the skills central to developing and maintaining positive relationships with others—and the authors specifically address the challenges leaders have in encouraging the heart.
The Caring Leadership Model© provides an answer to the challenge of encouraging the heart. It brings together the core values of the heart of a caring leader. It marries the most widely recognized caring and leadership theories to create the best basis for growth and development of a leader. Integrating The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® with the 10 Caritas Processes, the Caring Leadership Model© identifies a set of five values that we propose are essential to success for any leader in today's environment--especially if success is defined not by wealth alone but by how a leader cultivates and enriches the human condition:
In a case study recently published by the International Association for Human Caring www.humancaring.org we describe a successful program involving nurse leaders from 50 patient care areas at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, a large academic medical center with 872 licensed beds and the first Magnet-designated hospital in the Carolinas, and Lexington Memorial, a community-based Wake Forest Baptist Health hospital with 94 licensed acute care beds.
The foundation for implementing this dynamic model of care was the hospitals' shared governance structure, which empowers every direct care nurse to have a voice in decisions that affect their practice and the expectations of how that practice will be carried out. Shared governance leaders have extraordinary responsibility, authority, and accountability. As a result, they also must have access to educational opportunities and the mentoring needed to develop and enhance their leadership skills. The leadership theory of Kouzes and Posner is what guided this process.
We believe that the loss of trust and confidence in both our leaders and organizations is at the root of the workforce issues we face today. And where these challenges have existed, we have seen the Caring Leadership Model© and the supporting educational programs play an important role in developing leaders who are eager to engage with staff and colleagues, and adept at creating space for authenticity and mutual respect. We believe it is possible to create environments that allow leaders to live the agreed-upon values and encourage and promote flourishing of the human spirit in the workplace. This ultimately creates not only a positive return on this quarter's score card, but a culture shift that produces exceptional results that are sustainable.
Judy McDowell, RN, MSN, CCRN and Randy Williams, RN, MSN, MBA are coauthors of the Caring Leadership Model© and have a combined total of over 50 years of experience in healthcare and leadership. They believe that true change, innovation, and success come through culture transformation that is inspired by transformational leadership. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org For information on Dr. Jean Watson's work, visit www.watsoncaringscience.org.
Adapted from A Caring Leadership Model for Nursing's Future by Randy L. Williams, Judy B. McDowell, Donald D. Kautz, published in the International Journal for Human Caring 2011,Vol.15, No.1. Pages 31-35. The published article describes the McDowell-Williams Caring Leadership Model and provides institutional guidance for continuing the effective shared governance by the nurses at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center,as well as strategies for leaders to use with staff as they make their workplace the best place to work and the best place to receive care. Made available by permission from the publisher, International Association for Human Caring.
Q: I recently was questioned by client about the meaning of "standard deviation" and I had some difficulty explaining it in a way the group could really understand. Can you provide a simple explanation—in layman's terms—and give me some additional information I could use to explain why this is important for the client to have?
A: The standard deviation provides some idea about the distribution of scores around the mean (average). The smaller the standard deviation, the more narrow the range between the lowest and highest scores or, more generally, that the scores cluster closely to the average score.
You might think of it as a measure of "agreement" between raters. If everyone gave the same score, then the standard deviation would be zero and the agreement would be high (or perfect).
For an individual leader, you might notice that most Observers agree on their scores for that person when it comes to Model the Way, for example, as illustrated by a low standard deviation. But on the practice Inspire a Shared Vision, Observers don't agree about how that person behaves as would be illustrated by a high standard deviation. However, given the relatively small sample sizes at an individual level, the standard deviation, like the average score, can be heavily influenced by one or two outliers (scores much different from everyone else).
From a more empirical perspective, we assume a normal distribution of scores (which is very true as the sample size increases). In this case it can be said that approximately two-thirds of the scores will fall within the range of plus or minus one standard deviation around the mean (and 90% of the scores would fall between two standard deviations, plus and minus). For example, with a mean score of 50 and standard deviation of 10, we would expect that most scores would fall between 40 and 60 and that nearly all scores would fall between 30 and 70.
In a rough way, the standard deviation could be considered a measure of the extent to which one's observers agree or disagree with each another. The smaller the standard deviation suggests that people are in more agreement with one another than would be the case with a large standard deviation. Remember, however, that a single "outlying" response can distort the standard deviation and the sense of agreement between Observers. So taking this one important caveat into consideration, looking at the standard deviation can help leaders make a quick determination of whether others see them in the same fashion or not.
Barry Posner is the Accolti Professor of Leadership at SCU's Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years. Together with Jim Kouzes, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over a thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It.
Highly regarded in both the academic and practitioner world, The Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) has been extensively applied in many organizational settings—academia to government, healthcare to technology, non-profits and for-profits. In fact, it is one of the most widely used 360-degree leadership assessment instruments available.
For over 30 years, authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have continuously gathered and analyzed LPI data for ongoing study and to make refinements to the instrument. Now, the most recent updates are available! Reflecting data gathered through 2010, the current database includes responses from approximately 1.1 million individuals and is used to produce the normative information contained in the LPI Online Feedback Report. Specifically the report's Percentile Ranking can be used for hand-scoring. Additional analysis of the findings is provided in an updated New Norms data sheet. And an analysis by the authors, LPI Online Normative Database, offers additional insight into how the demographic data can be used to describe respondent attributes by gender, education, age, ethnicity, country of origin, etc.
As always, the website includes a description of how we conducted the research underlying The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® and the reliability and validity of that data.
More research on the web
From Taiwan to Ohio, in healthcare to higher education, every year dozens of academicians and graduate students use the LPI in research projects. In addition to ongoing research by authors Kouzes and Posner, these empirical research studies provide insight into the effectiveness of leaders in a variety of settings and circumstances: amateur sports, acute care nursing, project management, online distance learning, school leadership, U.S. Navy, community health systems, and more.
For an instrument to be used in an academic environment, it must meet rigorous criteria for psychometric testing (unlike internally developed competency surveys). And because of the LPI's demonstrated psychometric properties—including its strong reliability and validity—educators and practitioners alike remain confident in using the LPI to further understand what it takes to be an effective leader. Studies of the LPI continue to confirm the relationship between The Five Practices and a variety of measurable outcomes such as job satisfaction, employee commitment, and sales performance.
To date, nearly 500 academic studies and master's theses have been written using the LPI as a research tool. For the most current research, abstracts, and other important information about the Leadership Practices Inventory and The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, visit www.leadershipchallenge.com/research.
Dana Schwartz is Web Product Manager, coordinating the on-going development, sales and marketing of the products on the LPI Online platform: LPI360, LPI Self, StudentLPI, and TLCW Pre-Work. Over a 15+ year period she was a founding partner in three software startups and knows firsthand the importance of leadership in organizations. She can be reached at email@example.com and welcomes your input and feedback related to "anything LPI!"
Q: If you were to give a consultant one piece of advice on becoming a better leader, what would it be?
A: It's really two words: deliberate practice. The whole notion of talent has been highly overrated and will only get you so far. The rest is about hard work and deliberate practice.
Carve out at least two hours every day to use as a learning experience of deliberate practice. That means developing a plan for improvement. Set a goal and engage in designed learning activities to help you achieve that goal. Make sure you pay as much attention to technique as outcome. Get some feedback on how well you’re doing and then, based on that, reset your goals.
Adapted from a more extensive interview with Jim Kouzes, featured at Management Consulting News.
Jim Kouzes is the Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University (SCU). Barry Posner is the Accolti Professor of Leadership at SCU's Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years. Together they are authors of The Leadership Challenge and over a thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, which was just released this month.
More and more, however, the Army is finding that this authoritarian leadership style may not be completely effective in all circumstance and can actually impede the accomplishment of the mission. So, the question is: Is there a place for The Leadership Challenge model within the Army mindset of leader development? The answer, I believe, can be found in a recent study conducted at one of the Army's premier senior leader development institutions: the Army War College.
In the study, subordinates of highly-regarded major generals in Iraq were asked to respond to the question, "What makes a good leader?" Listed below are the study subjects' responses, in order of importance. Consider how closely aligned these responses are to The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®.
The study's authors suggest that although technical and tactical competence are both necessary, those competencies are insufficient for long-term effectiveness as a leader. What is critical is developing interpersonal skills, along with technical and tactical competence. Interpersonal skills include developing credibility and building teams, in particular. The authors also state their belief that it is much easier to teach technical/tactical skills than it is to teach people how to gain trust (credibility) and build teams. Nonetheless, their message is unambiguous: in order to be a complete leader, developing what are often considered to be 'soft' skills are critically important to long-term leader success.
It is apparent to me that The Five Practices are well suited to developing leaders in the U. S. Army. In fact, in workshops we conduct within the U.S. Army Medical Department we find that The Leadership Challenge model makes intuitive sense to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and government civilian employees alike. They can easily relate to how The Five Practices can be used to provide the leadership necessary for their people and organizations to succeed, regardless of whether they are providing healthcare services in a hospital or on the battlefield.
Adapted from What Makes a Good Leader? Ask Uncle Sam by Tim Knox at http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Makes-a-Good-Leader?-Ask-Uncle-Sam&id=55791.
Jody R. Rogers, Ph.D., is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® and Program Manager for the Army Medical Department Executive Skills Program. A Board Certified Healthcare Executive and Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), he and can be reached at Jrogers5@satx.rr.com.
Q: In your research paper, The Impact of Leadership Practices Within Cultures, you state that: "Overall, the findings from this latest research project strengthen the argument that there are some universal principles, or better yet, processes of leadership that are relatively independent of culture, albeit not necessarily independent of context." As a business student of International Business with a focus on leadership and management in cross-cultural environments, my question is this: Is it not likely that, for example, Chinese employees and expatriates working in China would value each of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® differently? That the appreciation of each of The Five Practices would differ, dependent on preferences influenced by one's culture? Here I refer to conventional theory which states e.g. that Asians are less likely to embrace empowerment.
A: Part of the challenge in dealing with cross-cultural issues revolves around semantics, and trying to find common meaning when looking at the same phenomenon. Indeed, we can ask "is the glass half-full or half-empty?" and both viewpoints can be correct.
Context is neither trivial nor unimportant. As you suggest, our research did reveal and did substantiate the viewpoint that leaders from several different countries did engage in particular leadership behaviors at different levels of frequency. In addition, the research also reveals that the most effective leaders use these leadership behaviors more frequently—versus their less effective counterparts—no matter from what country (or context or culture) they hail. In other words, to be an effective leader, you have to engage in these five leadership practices. However, in one context you may have to use The Five Practices more frequently than you would in another context. Likewise, consider that of the many different friends that I have I have to listen to each of them if I want them to remain my friends. With some of these friends this "listening" takes more time and energy than it does with others. And essentially, our research suggests that the same is true about leadership: there are some universal principals (like The Five Practices) that when applied in a particular setting or circumstance require a certain sensitivity.
Barry Posner is the Accolti Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, where he served as Dean for 12 years. Together with Jim Kouzes, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over a thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It.
Here's a success story: The client with whom I am currently working knows the value of this investment and has launched a leadership development program using The Leadership Challenge. They are facing the same challenges as any other company - declining sales, layoffs, canceled projects, etc. Too often they have felt their leaders were working in silos, communication was limited and stifled, and there was a lack of urgency and accountability. The Leadership Challenge was implemented along with the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), a diagnostic assessment of leadership behaviors. In combination, this program and assessment has helped leaders recognize that they need to look in the mirror and stop looking to others to make things better. Some leaders were disengaged, doing only what was required before the workshop. But now they are actively seeking ways to reach out to others and volunteering to lead company projects.
The group LPI results showed that, overall, the team had the lowest frequency on one of the behaviors, Challenge the Process. They were not good at taking risks and admittedly had fallen into a rut. Things were being done the same way they had for years but customers were demanding more cost-efficiencies. During the workshop, each participant was asked to define a business issue for the Challenge the Process segment. They needed to define how they would gain outsight (that is, learning from other departments and companies) and what small victories would look like. They have continued to work on these projects and have now launched a companywide Continuous Learning/Continuous Improvement program. They all ask, "What have we learned?" in their meetings and have sparked employee interest in generating cost-saving ideas.
Results from the organization's investment in The Leadership Challenge are already beginning to pay off. Their leadership journey has just begun but the investment they are making now, when times are tough, is already returning benefits and ensuring they will thrive through this downturn—not just survive it.
Tina Admans, for over 20 years has been working with individuals, teams, and organizations in the U.S. and abroad to develop their leadership ability, team and process effectiveness, communication and change management skills—as a leader inside corporations and as an independent consultant. Currently Senior Project Manager, Marketplace at American Public Media, she is a trained facilitator of The Leadership Challenge and a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: There has been so much written about leadership. Do you think leaders are better as a result or are there still typical stumbling points or common mistakes that you see leaders make?
A: The question of whether leaders are "better" is intriguing. Our entire careers have been devoted to developing better leaders and it can be humbling to look at how we've done over the years. For example, when we compare the most recent LPI scores to the average of five years ago, we see a very slight decline. Taken at face value, the numbers suggest that leadership may have gotten worse, or at least not gotten better. But the truth is that there is greater awareness and more sophistication about leadership. Constituents are now tougher graders; they're looking for even more effective leaders. And if that's the case, we could even say that leaders have actually improved. It's not unlike what's happened in sports—tennis, golf, track, team sports, and so on. We've raised the bar higher and expect more. We're tougher. And as a result, it's more difficult to attain higher levels of performance.
And yes, there are a few common stumbling points for many striving to become the best leaders they can be. According to our data, inspiring a shared vision is an area in which leaders have the poorest performance. Of all of The Five Practices, consistently over time, that's been the most difficult for leaders to master—despite all the emphasis on how important it is for leaders to have and convey a vision. Leaders come up short in their ability to make their vision compelling to their constituents—to communicate it in such a way that other people want to join in and see that it's in their interests to further that vision. The way to enlist others is not through facts and figures. What we imagine or recall when we think about an exciting place or idea is the senses it evokes—the sights, smells, tastes, and feelings. That's what leaders need to communicate to Inspire a Shared Vision.
The second weakness that the majority of leaders share is failing to ask others for feedback. It's an area in which people consistently score the lowest, both in their own opinions and in the opinion of others. And yet the most fundamental way to improve performance is by getting feedback on how we're doing. At some level, we're all uncomfortable with feedback. As leaders, we often don't ask for it until HR mandates a 360-degree assessment. And then we cringe before we receive that written report. The best leaders are the best learners, and they invite feedback. For some people, that's scary, but absolutely essential if we hope to improve our effectiveness as leaders.
Jim Kouzes is the Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. Barry Posner is the Accolti Professor of Leadership at SCU's Leavey School of Business, where he served as Dean for 12 years. Together they are authors of The Leadership Challenge and over a thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development, including The Truth About Leadership and Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It.
We never quite know where inspiration will come from. Everywhere we look—in the workplace, in the classroom, among our friends and family—there are dozens of opportunities each and every day to see true, authentic leadership in action. And we know it when we see it! Remember your first professional mentor who generated such warmth, understanding, and compassion that you were inspired to reach above and beyond expectations? Or the outstanding teacher who willingly shared his intellect, resources, talents, and time—the one who set the example and inspired your passion for a career as an educator or trainer? Regardless of status or title, we can feel the self-confidence that genuine leaders exude; they know who they are, what they stand for, and are willing to step up and take the moral high ground. And that perception of self-confidence easily rubs off on us.
At the same time we are looking outward to spot exemplary leadership practices and behaviors in others, we may be unaware of when we are the ones serving as an inspirational model to someone else. When we live our lives with authenticity, we don't necessarily think deliberately about what we're doing. We just do because it's the right thing for us. Our behaviors are natural—and genuine—and that's when others take notice.
In the case of graduate student Donovan McFarlane, he found inspiration and motivation from his personal encounters with, among others, our own Barry Posner. And in a recently published article entitled "Impressed and Inspired" he offers a reminder to us all that what we do makes a difference. Even if we aren't aware that anyone is paying attention, how we Model the Way matters.
Q: If people want to assess their own abilities as leaders, how do you suggest they get started?
A: In our research we've learned that the behavior leaders struggle with the most is "I ask for feedback on how my actions affect the performance of others." It's something everyone finds difficult, so just asking the question about getting started is a big step forward.
Before you can assess your capability as a leader, you first need a framework that is evidence-based and has support from research. The model we derived from our extensive research on Personal-Best Leadership Experiences is The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, and the tool we developed to measure the extent to which leaders engage in these practices is the 30-item Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI). It's a 360-degree assessment tool, but you can get started by completing just the Self-only form. Eventually you'll want to get feedback from your key constituents: your manager, peers, direct reports, and other observers. But if you want to take the first step, begin with an honest self-assessment. From that you'll get a profile of how frequently you engage in effective leader behaviors and a sense of where you're strong and where you need improvement.
With that feedback in mind, I'd suggest you set improvement goals and engage in learning activities specifically designed to reach those goals. Those activities can be done in a workshop setting—such as our The Leadership Challenge® Workshop—or in one-on-one sessions with a good coach. You also can learn by observing others who've mastered leadership, by reading, or by just jumping in and experimenting with new behaviors. It doesn't matter how you learn, but you do need to set goals, pick a method for learning, follow it, and get more feedback. After that, it's just repeating that cycle many times over. But make sure you pay as much attention to the activity and the technique as you do to the outcome. Yes, you have goals to improve, but also focus on getting the technique right, whatever skills you are working on. It's called deliberate practice.
Another important point about developing expertise is that you have to practice a lot to become an expert. If you compare experts to average performers, the research suggests that experts log about twice as many hours compared to those who are average. So in that vein, one final suggestion would be to follow our mantra: practice, practice, practice. Or, more accurately, deliberate practice, deliberate practice, deliberate practice.
Jim Kouzes is the Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. Together with Barry Posner, he is author of The Leadership Challenge and over a thirty other books and workbooks on leadership and leadership development.
Using the MBTI® assessment with the LPI®
The most valuable investment any organization can make is in the development of its future leaders. The responsibility for this investment lies squarely with the executive team. This vital task ensures that leaders possess competencies to achieve the organization's strategy, continue to mature the organizational culture, and inspire the workforce.
Due to the baby-boomer exodus from the workforce, many organizations are poised to lose 30 to 50 percent of their key leaders in the next half-dozen years. In addition, organizations have been lax in developing people who will replace individuals in these leadership roles. At the same time, the expectation of essential leadership skill standards continues to climb. Senior leaders' positions have become more challenging, requiring a broader range of job experience and a surprisingly long list of competencies.
In addition to what we typically think of as required leadership skills, the next generation of leaders must be visionary coalition-builders; internationally astute; quick learners and fast implementers; highly creative; comfortable with change, volatility, and ambiguity; have an intimate knowledge of the changing customer needs; have the agility to revamp operations instantly; and must produce rapid results in all areas.
The breadth of these competencies indicates that every forward-looking organization should be asking itself, "What are we doing to prepare our next generation of leaders? Is our pipeline filled with sufficient talent to carry out our organization's strategy and to inspire the workforce? Who is at the helm of developing our new leaders?"
How are our key leaders involved? Is leadership development at the top of all of our leaders' action lists? And exactly what are these actions?"
Actions for Successful Leadership Development
Leadership development must start at the top so that all leaders have a role model.
Leaders need to be clear about what they need to do and why. Six critical success factors distinguish organizations that are successful in developing their leaders. An organization's leaders are the key in each of these actions to ensure success.
Ask these questions: To what extent do our leaders...
Lack of support from current leaders is one of the key reasons that leadership development fails. If current leaders rate high on each of these six factors, a company's leadership development efforts are most likely thriving. Let's examine each of these factors.
View Leadership Development from a Strategic, Future Focus
Successful companies ensure that their leadership development efforts are strategically driven and see business strategies as inseparable from leadership development. Senior leaders examine the emerging issues and challenges and consider the unique skills required to resolve them. They see leadership development as a strategy as opposed to being a project.
Make Improving Quality of Bench Strength a Top Priority
The quality of leadership, more than any other factor, determines the success or failure of an organization. Leaders must candidly discuss the current and the future bench strength required. Does the organization have the leadership resources to achieve its strategic imperative given the current competencies on board?
With this in mind, identifying and improving the quality of leaders must be a top priority to ensure a filled pipeline of experienced employees ready to be placed in leadership positions. This includes recognizing the high-potential individuals and accelerating their development.
Leaders are responsible for developing a systemic process for identifying candidates for key leadership positions. Once candidates are identified, leaders provide opportunities for learning and growth. Research by RHR International Company shows that over 90 percent of senior teams are involved in identifying individuals with high potential (Kaiser, 2005). In addition, organizations need to learn what it takes to retain employees identified as future leaders once they have identified them and integrate that learning into the company's culture.
Accept Full Responsibility for Developing Future Leaders
It's easy for leaders to say, "I support the mentoring program" or "Rotational assignments are critical to a leader's growth" or "Leaders must be involved in employees' learning." It is quite another for leaders to set aside time on their calendars to meet a protégé for an early morning breakfast or to encourage their best employee to leave for a six-month-long, high-visibility project during the busiest season or to show up to facilitate a leadership class. The Leadership Reminder List presents ideas for what your leaders can do to develop future leaders in their departments.
Leadership Reminder List
Leaders develop leaders. Senior leaders accept the important role they have of developing future leaders: owning and sponsoring development efforts. Leaders of successful organizations spend as much as one-third of their time in developing others. For example, Larry Bossidy (2001) states that, while at Allied Signal, "That level of [leadership] excellence didn't happen by accident. I devoted what some people consider an inordinate amount of emotional energy and time — perhaps between 30 and 40 percent of my day to hiring and developing leaders." Reportedly, Jack Welch, when he was chairman at GE, invested 30 to 40 percent of his time at Crotonville, GE's leadership development center. Welch believed that his most important job was motivating and developing GE leaders and future leaders. He felt so strongly about it that he spent about 50 percent of his time on people issues. He likened a leader's role to that of a gardener. "You have to go along with a can of fertilizer in one hand and water in the other and constantly throw both on the flowers." He noted that leaders, like plants, may need more fertilizer to ensure that they will fully blossom and that some need to be weeded out so the strongest can thrive and achieve their potential (Hymowitz & Murray, 1999, p. B1).
Practice Evaluating the Results of Leadership Development
Future leaders must deliver a competitive advantage; therefore, the goals for the current leadership development efforts must support the organization's strategy and produce results.
An organization's leadership must establish, track, measure, and evaluate clear goals for their organization's leadership development efforts. These may be different for every organization.
Value Learning and Development
The most successful organizations value learning and development for all employees, not just leaders; the organization is committed to a life-long learning strategy. Learning is rewarded. In addition, standards for reaching leadership positions are clear to everyone in the organization. Even more critical, leaders must be willing to admit that they do not know everything and actively participate in learning events. Finding opportunities to learn and grow provides an excellent model for the rest of the organization.
Take a Long-term, Aligned, Systemic Approach to Developing Leaders
A successful leadership development program is aligned with the other aspects of the organization and prepares future leaders to cope with the challenges of the future. Every leader should ensure that the leadership development efforts are aligned with the organization's mission, vision, values, and strategic plan. Senior leaders understand and accept that leadership development is a lengthy process. They ensure their involvement in establishing a common set of leadership values and standards that permeate everything the organization does, including recruiting, hiring, succession planning, and performance management.
What does the organization believe about leadership development? A leadership development philosophy is a statement that defines the principles the organization espouses. A leadership development philosophy provides direction for those crafting the plan and a communication tool to help the organization understand leadership development.
You may predict your organization's success in implementing a leadership development effort based on the six factors using the Organizational Leadership Readiness Audit found in the accompanying online tools.
The Ultimate Goal
Whose responsibility is it to develop an organization's future leaders? The responsibility starts at the top. Support and development must begin in the C-level suite. Engaged senior leaders are best poised to recognize leadership gaps as an obstacle to the execution of strategy.
At a time when leadership development is recognized as a vital ingredient for organization success, the involvement of senior leaders in the learning and development of future leaders is a powerful decision by every organization. The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. Senior leaders are the key to the success of producing the next generation of leaders who will ensure the success of the organization.
Bossidy, L. (2001, March). The job no CEO should delegate. Harvard Business Review.
Hymowitz, C., & Murray, M. (1999, June 21). How GE's chief rates and spurs his employees.
The Wall Street Journal, p. B1.
Kaiser, R.B. (2005). Filling the leadership pipeline. Greensboro, NC: The Center for Creative Leadership.
Excerpted from Developing Talent for Organization Results: Training Tools from the Best in the Field, edited by Elaine Biech. Copyright © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. www.pfeiffer.com.
Elaine Biech is founder and CEO of ebb associates inc, an organization and leadership development firm that helps organizations work through large-scale change. The thirty-year-old company specializes in helping people work as teams to maximize their effectiveness. Author or editor of more than fifty books, she is particularly adept at turning dysfunctional teams into productive teams. She can be reached at email@example.com or through the company website at www.ebbweb.com.
An activity designed to help a team recognize the connection between a training course or consulting activity and the company's vision statement and values.
To connect training with a company's vision and value statements.
10 or more
This activity is used throughout an event. Allow about 5 minutes for the vision activity each time it is used.
Any classroom configuration
Facilitating Risk Rating
This activity is easier than it sounds, and it is surprising and exciting to discover how effectively participants tie the learning to the company's vision.
Use elements of the corporate vision in place of values.
Excerpt from The 2012 Pfeiffer Annual: Consulting, edited by Elaine Biech. Copyright © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. All rights reserved.
Deborah Thomas, owner of SillyMonkey, LLC, a game-based learning boutique, started her career as a teacher at one of the worst-performing middle schools in the state. She drove student SAT scores up 30 percent by creating and using innovative techniques. She applies that same passion for helping adults retain learning objectives through games as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies. She has won e-learning awards, contributed to books, written articles, and spoken at conferences. She is the vice president of professional development for ASTD Atlanta, president of the Atlanta chapter of the Georgia Game Developers Association, on the board of the TAG Workplace Learning Society, and the past-president of NASAGA.
An extremely fun and educational way to reinforce key concepts of the practice, Challenge the Process. This is an easy activity that requires minimal space and very few supplies to perform.
No more than 5 people per team. If the total group size is just 5 or 6 people, divide the group into teams of 3, if at all possible. Team size is more important than total number of participants involved in the activity.
45 minutes or less
5 minute introduction; 18 minute activity; 5 minute video. Additional time for discussion. The 18 minute exercise is fixed. Other times can be adjusted as needed.
Each team needs 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, 20 pieces of spaghetti (uncooked, of course), and one marshmallow. I also recommend making available one or two small scissors for all teams in the group to access during the activity.
Each team has 18 minutes to build the tallest, free-standing structure using the materials supplied to each group. The marshmallow must be attached to the top of the structure you build. After 18 minutes, I will measure the height of each structure that remains standing with the marshmallow on top. The winner is the team whose free-standing structure is the tallest.
Follow-up questions to ask of the group to facilitate discussion and further learning:
Encourage the Heart of all participants by giving everyone the marshmallows remaining in the bag. Everyone loves marshmallows!
Jody Rogers, PhD, FACHE, is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop within the Army Medical Department and a Visiting Professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Allows a group of people to understand how values are strong drivers of the leadership process.
A maximum of 12 participants clustered in trios. All participants should have had
or will soon have leadership experience.
Approximately 90 minutes
A room large enough for at least four groups of three to work together comfortably.
1. Facilitate a discussion on leadership values. Use the lecturette as a basis. (10 minutes)
2. Divide the participants into triads. Provide each participant with the Values in Leadership: Spiritual Leader Case. (5 minutes)
3. Have the participants read the case and discuss it considering the values demonstrated. Tell participants to work together in their groups for 20 minutes to prepare a list of leadership values for presentation to the large group. (20 minutes)
4. After the time is up, ask one participant from each group to present his or her small group's observations to the large group. Allow for discussion. Record the values on the flip chart. (20 minutes)
5. Discuss each value listed on the flip chart with the large group and solicit participation through responses and experience sharing. (10 minutes)
6. Bring closure through a discussion and a reinforcement of the message that leadership is truly driven by values. Debrief with the following questions:
7. Ask participants to make arrangements with one another to check each other's progress via email at stated times in the future, such as in thirty days or three months. Give them time to exchange email addresses or make other plans.
8. Ask participants to share some of their ideas with the group and then close the session. (10 minutes)
Mohandas Nair is a management educator, teacher, trainer, writer, and facilitator of learning. He earned a B.Tech. (Mech.) from IIT Kharagpur, India, has a diploma in training and development, and has more than thirty years of experience in industry and consultancy in the field of industrial engineering and human resource development. He has published two books, written numerous articles, and facilitated many management development programs.
Excerpted from The 2012 Pfeiffer Annual: Training. Copyright © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley.
An activity created in the spirit of our fabulous duo, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, it can be used as an ice breaker or an example of effective collaboration to introduce the practice of Enable Others to Act.
Any size group
10-15 minutes (including debrief)
Worksheet for each participant (have them work as pairs or table teams)
Answer sheet for the facilitator
As leaders, we don't have all the answers which is why it's so important to focus on fostering collaboration, and utilizing different points of view and strengths to maximize the effectiveness and productivity of our teams.
As the complexity of challenges and projects increase, it becomes more important to build trust and facilitate relationships within our teams and with other parts of the organization.
Clues can be modified to be more relevant to a specific group; the examples provided here are multi-generational and multi-cultural. You also can modify how the group begins this exercise, e.g., have everyone start out working as individuals for 5 minutes before allowing them to work with someone else or the rest of their table to illustrate the benefit of collaboration more clearly.
Mary Cooper is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®, based in Orlando, Florida. A former consultant with the Disney Institute and a retired instructor of the Dale Carnegie Course, Mary's vision is to make a positive difference by helping leaders leave a personal and organizational legacy. She can be reached at mcooper@EngagingOutcomes.com.
To participate in a process improvement exercise and experience the associated behaviors.
Minimum 5-6 participants. For groups of 15 or more, break into two smaller groups.
Materials and Equipment
1. Wall chart paper displaying the following columns and rows:
3. Clock with a second hand or a stop watch
4. One quarter coin for each team or group
An open area large enough for all participants to form a circle while standing.
1. Ask participants what behaviors are associated with Challenge the Process. Record their responses on a wall chart.
2. State that participants will now have an opportunity to apply the practice through an activity called Cash Flow.
3. Ask participants to form a circle. Ensure that they have elbow room.
4. Produce a quarter. Place it on the back of your hand and explain the following:
5. Ask participants to estimate a time (i.e., to set a goal) for successful completion of the task. Record this figure in the "Estimated Time/Run 1" square on the chart.
6. Conduct the first "run". Time the participants. Record the actual time in the "Actual Time/Run 1" square on the chart.
7. Ask participants if they think they can improve upon their performance. Clarify rules as necessary. Allow the group to discuss.
8. After participants have developed a new plan, ask for a new time estimate. Record this time in the "Estimated Time/Run 2" square on the chart. Start the second "run" and record and compare the group's estimate to actual.
9. Continue to challenge the group to improve their effectiveness. Note: It is possible to complete this activity in "n" seconds, where "n" equals the number of participants (e.g., 7 participants = 7 seconds to completion). If the group's faith wanes, share this timing information with the participants.
Wall chart ideas and thoughts generated from the following questions:
What specifically did you do that enabled you to improve your productivity?
Note: possible answers may include brainstorming of new ideas, listening to all ideas, modeling the way, working as a team, being open to change, breaking the process into smaller parts, etc.
How can you apply these behaviors in your roles at work?
Adapted from The Leadership Challenge Activities Book, edited by Elaine Biech, ©2010. Published by Pfeiffer, An Imprint of Wiley. All Rights Reserved.
Edith Katz is Employee Development Manager at Brooks Health System in Jacksonville, Florida where she facilitates an 11-week Leadership Challenge series that includes specific action learning assignments for each of The Five Practices. She can be reached at Edith.Katz@Brooksrehab.org.
To be able to articulate who you are, what you believe, and what you stand for, which is the first step toward being a credible leader
Materials and Equipment
A Personal Credo Worksheet for each leader
Adapted from Strengthening Credibility: A Leader's Workbook by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner with Jane Bozarth. Copyright ©2011 James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. Published by Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of Wiley. All Rights Reserved.
James M. Kouzes is a professional speaker, cited by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top twelve executive educators in the U.S., and an executive leadership fellow at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, California. Barry Z. Posner is professor of leadership at Santa Clara University and former dean of the Leavey School of Business. Jim and Barry are the co-authors of The Leadership Challenge, The Truth About Leadership, and Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. They also developed the highly acclaimed Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), a 360-degree assessment tool based on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®.
PERSONAL CREDO WORKSHEET (Please see the PDF version of this activity for printer-friendly version of this worksheet.)
You can't do what you say if you don't know what you believe. The first stage of your credibility journey is to clarify your values and determine the roots of your personal credo.
Opportunities to leverage the My Current Leadership Challenge worksheet that is part of the pre-work to The Leadership Challenge programs cannot be overstated. We all know that learning is facilitated when people can apply the knowledge they are acquiring to a current situation and, therefore, begin to put it into practice. By having participants articulate a current challenge, one that could be positively impacted by more effective leadership, you establish a "lens" through which they can view The Five Practices model. This lens allows them to focus in on specific opportunities within their reach. It also drives results.
In a recent classroom-setting workshop, for example, I introduced the definition of "leadership" and then asked participants to take a few minutes to formulate and speak to a specific challenge with other attendees sitting at their tables. They were encouraged to talk specifically about how effective leadership could help meet their challenge, based on their new understanding of the word. After each practice, participants identified an action they could commit to taking. They then took a few minutes to work with a partner to explore how that action might specifically apply to the challenge they had identified. The result was that at the end of the workshop, all participants had identified five things they could do short-term, and had a clear understanding of how these actions might help them meet their specific challenge. I believe the result was that all felt empowered and ready to face their challenge.
We also leverage the My Current Leadership Challenge worksheet, in a slightly different but no less effective way, in the Leadership Challenge Workshop Online. Because of the extended time the community of participants is together, we are able to watch the impact of these behaviors as the challenge is met over time. Each week participants identify behaviors that they are willing to commit to and believe will positively impact their challenge. They report back, into the Idea Bank section of the Class Headquarters, the results they have seen and the impact on their challenge. We also encourage them to bring their action results into the community in the Discussions section of the Class Headquarters. We tell them to think of this as their 'Commons Room', a place where they can talk openly with community members about the progress they are making in addressing the challenge they face. Peer coaching abounds and the support for each person's leadership journey is ongoing. Real challenges woven into the workshop equates to real support, real community, and real progress.
Beth High is president of HighRoad Consulting, a leadership development company, where she focuses on the challenges of leading effectively in the virtual environment. She also is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge Workshop® and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants are asked to draw upon their artistic skills to create pictures that represent a higher functioning, more cohesive group or team. Appropriate for any team, department, or group.
Up to 20 participants from intact work teams
30 to 60 minutes, depending on discussion
Materials and Discussion
Tables arranged so that participants can work in groups
Excerpt from The Book of Road-Tested Activities, edited by Elaine Biech and co-published by Pfeiffer and ASTD.
Mel Schnapper is an international consultant, currently working in Lesotho, who has worked in over 20 countries and in corporate America with companies such as Quaker Oats, Chicago Board Operations Exchange, AT&T, and American Express. Author of Value-Based Metrics for Improving Results, he can be reached at email@example.com.
Team-focused activity requiring a high level of communication, leadership, followership, and team skills
8 or more members of an intact work group, in subgroups of 8 to 15
25 minutes or longer, depending on the depth of the debriefing
A space large enough for participants to create a large circle, with nothing in the way. If there are several subgroups doing the activity at the same time, you will need space for each subgroup to be able to form a large circle, with plenty of room between subgroups. (This activity works well in an outdoor setting.)
1) Introduce the activity by explaining that teams are most effective when all the members agree on their roles, values, and operating principles (code of behavior). Explain that this activity is designed to help team members examine how they function together as a team and establish their own operating principles.
2) If there are a lot of team members, divide the group into subgroups of eight to fifteen. Ask each subgroup to form a big circle, with enough distance between subgroups to allow discussion and movement without interference.
3) Once subgroups are organized into their circles, lay a 100-foot rope circle in the center of each subgroup. Instruct the team members to pick up the rope so everyone is holding it and it creates a circle the same size as the group.
4) Instruct the group that, from this point on, no one may let go of the rope, nor may anyone change places on the rope with anyone else. People may slide their hands along the rope as they move, but they may not let go of the rope.
5) The goal is to use the rope to create a 5-pointed star with lines intersecting. Emphasize that the star must have the lines intersecting. Remind them they are to use the entire rope to create their stars. Post a sketch like the one shown below on a flip chart to demonstrate what you mean.
6) Allow the groups to create their stars, observing the team dynamics. Be sure they do not let go of the rope or change where they are on the rope. As they move to create the star, they can simply slide their hands along the rope.
7) When a group feels they have achieved the goal, instruct them to lay the rope down on the ground, so they can step away and see their results.
8) Celebrate success or talk about the reasons why they were not successful, and then encourage them to make another attempt.
9) To debrief and use this activity for a more intense discussion, use the following questions:
10) Lead the teams to brainstorm, prioritize, and select their five top values or five operating principles.
An excerpt from The 2011 Pfeiffer Annual: Consulting edited by Elaine Biech. Copyright ©2011 Pfeiffer. All Rights Reserved.
Cher Holton, Ph.D., president of The Holton Consulting Group, Inc., is an impact consultant focusing on bringing harmony to life with customers, among team members, and in life. A Certified Speaking Professional and Certified Management Consultant, she also is author of several books, including The Manager's Short Course to a Long Career, Living at the Speed of Life: Staying in Control in a World Gone Bonkers!, and Crackerjack Choices: 200 of the Best Choices You Will Ever Make.
This jolt emphasizes the difference between understanding something and applying that learning. It is perhaps our favorite jolt.
Participants learn the difficulty of listening and following directions required for even simple activities such as clapping their hands simultaneously.
To emphasize that actions speak louder than words
Any number over ten
This activity works best with groups of ten to one hundred
2 minutes for the activity
3 to 10 minutes for debriefing
Conduct a practice round. Ask all the participants to clap their hands once. Pause while participants do this.
Brief the participants. Complain that the participants' clapping was ragged and unimpressive and that you want them to synchronize their claps so that those outside the room hear a single thunderous sound.
Provide performance support. Explain that you will provide a non-electronic performance support system to synchronize all the participants' claps: you will count "One, two, three" and then say, "Clap." Ask everyone in the room to wait until you say, "Clap" before they clap simultaneously.
Conduct the activity. Count out loud, "One, two, three." Immediately after you say "three," clap your hands (without saying the word "Clap"). Most participants will follow your lead and clap their hands as well. Act surprised and say, "Clap."
Ask the participants why they did not follow your instructions and wait until they heard the word "Clap" before clapping hands. Some participant will likely say, "But you clapped your hands. . . ." They will likely anticipate your response, "Would you jump off a cliff if I did?" Ask the participants what they learned from the activity. Discuss the learning points that the participants offer.
1. Actions speak louder than words.
2. People follow your actions more than your words.
3. A big gap exists between understanding instructions and following them.
This is an effective jolt to use near the beginning of a training session. If this jolt follows other jolts, participants may suspect that you are planning to trap them and avoid following your lead.
Excerpted from Jolts! Activities to Wake-up and Engage Your Participants by Sivasailam "Thiagi" Thiagarajan and Tracy Tagliati. Published by Pfeiffer © 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Sivasailam "Thiagi" Thiagarajan, Ph.D., is Resident Mad Scientist at the Thiagi Group, a Bloomington, Indiana-based organization with the mission of helping people improve their performance effectively and enjoyably. Thiagarajan has published forty books, including Thiagi's 100 Favorite Games and Design Your Own Games and Activities (both from Pfeiffer), as well as numerous games, simulations, and articles.
Tracy Tagliati, CPLP, is a Senior Associate at the Thiagi Group, where she specializes in designing and delivering training to international clients. Prior to working with the Thiagi Group, Tracy was a corporate trainer for Mercury Insurance Group and Mindset Development, a franchise of Crestcom International.
A fast-paced activity that allows participants to experience communicating with others when their words are limited.
Minimum of 12 and a maximum of 18 persons.
25 to 30 minutes.
A room large enough for 12 to 18 people to walk around and connect with each of the remaining participants.
Low to Moderate.
1. Introduce the activity by explaining to the participants that they will be learning about leadership and communication by experiencing how effectively they can communicate with others, even when they can only use a few words and are under time pressure.
2. Distribute the small plastic bowls and randomly distribute all of the items from the large bowl. Place one index card face down beside each participant. Tell participants to not share with anyone what is written on their index cards.
3. State that they will have fifteen minutes to collect the items written on their index cards from all the other participants. Other participants can only show their own items one at a time. They must work individually, moving from one person to the next, but they may communicate by using only two words ( " cool " or " bummer " ) when others pick items from their own bowls to show them. "Cool" indicates that is what they need. "Bummer" means "that's not it." They may only touch items in their own bowls. After everyone understands the process, let them begin.
4. Monitor to ensure that the participants are only using the words "cool" and "bummer" and that they are not clustering into larger groups or showing each other more than one item at a time. Have music playing as background.
5. When thirteen minutes have passed, give the participants a two - minute warning before calling time.
(15 to 20 minutes.)
6. Ask the participants to return to their seats with their bowls. You will notice that most of them have only the items they were seeking, but some with still have a few of their original items besides the ones they sought.
7. Lead a total group discussion to debrief the exercise. Start by asking these questions:
Nanci Appleman-Vassil is president and chief learning officer of APLS Group, a training, recruiting, and consulting firm that specializes in working with clients in developing core competencies to optimize performance. Nanci has recently contributed chapters for several books, including the e-book World's Best Public Speaking Secrets. She recently created the 18 Common Mistakes Small Business Owners Make workshop and is past president of the North Carolina RTA Chapter of ASTD.
Excerpted from The 2011 Pfeiffer Annual: Training. Copyright © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley.
With each New Year it seems we get a free pass to do things differently, to create a new version of ourselves. On January 1, we get our annual 'do-over'. While the notion of turning over a new leaf is very appealing, who said it has to happen only once a year? What if that opportunity were available to us more often than that?
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner tell us that "Leadership is in the moment." And there is plenty of evidence that shows us these moments happen with both frequency and consistency. For example, Gloria Mark at UC-Irvine suggests that we are presented with such 'do-over' moments every 3.05 minutes! That's how often we are interrupted by someone during a typical 8-hour workday.
Truly mindful leaders will recognize each of these moments as an opportunity to be fully present, to react and respond according to their own values and the values of those with whom they interact. They will seize the opportunity to be "in the moment" and demonstrate a leadership behavior that will enhance their relationship with another person.
Learning to take advantage of these special occasions takes practice. As a coach, facilitator, teacher, or leader, if you are working to fully develop The Five Practices, this is fertile ground. There are many approaches you might take to help shift leaders' thinking, using the "every 3.05 minutes" metric. For example, you could ask leaders to:
Another more in-depth approach would be to ask leaders to identify a specific relationship they would like to strengthen-one in which they would like to engage more fully. Focus on that relationship for a specific length of time (e.g., a week, a month, or whatever seems appropriate). Track the moments made available to influence that relationship. And help leaders see that they may be as often as every 3.05 minutes.
Through coaching or peer reflection, leaders can make it an everyday practice to act and reflect on the opportunities available to them to make a difference, to do things differently. Whether the moments are grabbed or missed, over time leaders may recognize that the "fresh slate" that we so often associate with the New Year and our resolve to change comes much more often than we realize. And each moment offers a unique opportunity to lead.
Beth High is President of HighRoad Consulting, a leadership development company, where she focuses on the challenges of leading effectively in the virtual environment. She also is a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Engage participants in thinking about how they want to be perceived by others. This exercise can be used as an introductory ice-breaker or incorporated into a program module focused on Model the Way.
Post-it notes, index cards or paper
Post-It note version:
Conduct the same exercise with one exception: have participants write their five words on Post-its. Using flip chart paper or the wall, have each person sign their note and post it, declaring in front of the entire group how they want to be remembered.
Valarie Willis is a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and principal of Valarie Willis Consulting, in Loveland, OH, where she focuses on strategic management consulting. She can be reached at email@example.com.
In recent months, some of my clients have challenged me to help them find ways to continue to build leadership capacity, but within the constraints of very tight budgets. The use of Skype technology and email have allowed me to go virtual to effectively connect with participants who have been part of a Five Practices workshop and offer follow-up coaching for leaders.
Taking advantage of the latest technology tools has proven to be useful, valuable, and — essential to my clients — cost-effective, especially when participants are located in other cities. Combining Skype and email enables me to have 'almost' face-to-face contact with clients, without incurring travel expenses, and provided much-needed flexibility in scheduling time with busy leaders in the field.
The process I have used looks like this:
Beverley Simpson is principal of Toronto-based Beverley Simpson Associates and a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge. A nurse by training, she specializes in people, teams, and systems development in healthcare. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leaders and managers, one-on-one or in a group setting
In giving praise and affirmation to others, I have noticed that some people read everything you give them while others ignore written communication entirely, preferring to be spoken to instead. Some people swell with pride at being recognized in public and for others--and for other cultures as well--public praise is embarrassing and humiliating.
I have also noticed that there are times in the course of business life where praise is expected--like at the end of a challenging project or when a constituent has achieved a major milestone. You don't want to let those times go unnoticed. But praise is also needed--and makes a significant impact--at totally unexpected occasions.
Finally, there are those whose cubicles are lined with pictures of their family, their friends, their dogs, their friends' dogs, and so on. And there are others with virtually no pictures at all in their work space. In other words, there are those where work is work and life is life and the two don't mix, and others where everything blurs together. Leaders must be attentive to all of these variables.
I refer to these variables as currency. If you were in Europe you would use the euro, while in Japan the yen, and in Mexico the peso. This exercise helps leaders make deposits into the accounts of their constituents with the currency that works best for the recipient.
1. Have each participant take an 8 1/2 x 11" piece of paper and hold it up in portrait orientation (8 1/2" side up). Fold it in half from top to bottom once, and fold it in half from top to bottom again. Then fold the paper in half, this time from side to side. Now open the piece of paper.
This is what you should have:
2. Now have each participant write in the center of the upper left-hand box the word SPOKEN and in the center of the upper right-hand box write the word WRITTEN.
3. In the box immediately below the upper left hand box (two from the top) have each participant write the word PUBLIC in the center and in the center of the box to the right, write the word PRIVATE
4. In the box that is three boxes from the top (two from the bottom), have each participant write the word EXPECTED in the center and in the center of the box to the right, write the word UNEXPECTED.
5. Finally have each participant write in the center of the bottom left-hand box the word PROFESSIONAL and in the center of the bottom right-hand box write the word PERSONAL.
Now it is time to use this matrix, combining elements from the rows and columns.
1. Imagine you are a sales manager with a member of your sales team who achieved the highest sales in your region for the last quarter. How would you praise this person for their achievement in a way that was:
2. Imagine that this sales person was more quiet and shy. (Yes, we are using our imagination, but such sales people do exist.) How would you praise this person for their achievement in a way that was
Notice how when you change just one of the elements, you a get a very different way to offer praise?
3. Now imagine that you manage this person virtually and there are no team meetings or face-to-face encounters. How would you praise this person for that achievement in a way that was
4. How would you do it in a way that was
5. Again, notice how when you change the elements, you a get a very different way to offer praise.
6. What would praise look like if it were
7. Work through all the "praise possibilities" in the actual situations with the actual people your leaders encounter.
8. Have your leaders make a list of each of their direct reports and determine a specific way they will praise each of them in the next week. Have your leaders write these down and share them with one other person as a point of accountability. Additionally, consider adding supervisors, co-workers, and family members to this list.
Facilitator tips: I have used this exercise in one-on-one coaching sessions and in group training events where it never fails to turn on the light bulbs. One executive actually taped his completed paper exercise to his computer monitor to keep it at the top of his mind.
One question I am asked almost every time I present this exercise is, "Is there some way we can know a person's preferred way to receive praise?" My answer is two-fold: 1) pay attention to your people — the items on The Affirmation Matrix are pretty easy to figure out; and 2) ask them.
Bill Zipp is President of Leadership Link, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in developing business and sales leaders. Bill applies the practices of The Leadership Challenge and the LPI 360 in sales management training, executive coaching, and team development. A popular speaker, master business coach, and author of The Business Coaching Toolkit
While many baby-boom leaders are frustrated with the disconnect between generations, organizations across the spectrum also deny access to social networking sites. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Robert Half Technology that surveyed 1,400 CIOs in U.S. businesses, 54% reported that their organizations block the use of social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter within the workplace. Yet our success as leaders depends on our ability to have profound conversations with constituents. And in today's web-connected world, that means taking advantage of the technological and social media tools available — to meet and connect, in particular, with members of the younger generation who prefer to communicate and learn in open environments.
So the important questions to leaders: Are you using online social media in your role as a leader to create an environment of openness and transparency? Have you practiced your leadership skills through a range of different media?
An essential starting place for social media novices or anyone wanting to build relationships with constituents in our new open environment is to profile your constituents' social computing behaviors using The Social Technology Profile Tool. This tool automatically creates a profile of your selected demographic group. It tests both your organization's voice and your constituent's receptivity to your voice (i.e., their willingness to listen to you and respond to you as credible).*
An additional approach is to follow the advice of Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership, who suggests that our focus as leaders must shift from trying to retain what little control we actually have to choosing where and when we will be open to embrace our newly- empowered employees. The Openness Audit asks you to rate how open your organization is in each of six different information- sharing elements. This diagnostic tool will help you understand where your organization is open and where it is not. In particular, the results assess the level of openness that exists in structure, encouragement, and exhibited behavior that can help define a plan to open your organization to becoming more flexible and responsive utilizing the technology and social media tools available.
References: Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff; Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, by Charlene Li.
Jeni Nichols is Queen of Connections at Sonoma Leadership Systems, a leading provider of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, training and materials, that also provides a dynamic range of integrated training programs, coaching, courseware, e-learning solutions, and implementation tools designed to inspire and develop exemplary leaders and teams at every level. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This is a great exercise for engaging your team or a group of individuals in the critical topic of motivation while they also get out of their chairs and have some fun. The purpose is to expand motivation within the team by understanding what motivates one another, building team resonance on which actions to engage, and to strategically use those actions to stimulate team engagement.
Then do the same to the inside circle so it has the same 3 wedges. For this circle they might just write the words, toward, away and against for the 3 wedges.
Follow-up activities can be to get team members in pairs to talk about what each person wrote and to talk with one another about how they might better support each other in finding high motivation ways to engage. You might also schedule a time to review the action plan and focus on success and next steps. The team/group can check in with their motivation target periodically to see if they are operating on target.
Excerpted from Developing Emotional and Social Intelligence: Exercises for Leaders, Individuals, and Teams by Marcia Hughes and Amy Miller.
Help clients focus on the practice Model the Way and build leadership competence in setting a personal example, the behavior identified in item #1 of the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI).
The following statement is the first item in the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), and relates to the Model the Way practice.
Based on client feedback and insight from your coaching work, you may determine that your client could benefit from focusing on this particular behavior as part of the Model the Way practice. As you work with your client in a coaching situation, the following suggested questions and activities have been created to stimulate discussion and reflection.
You will note that several of the activities reference a "journal." There is an assumption that your leader will have a personal journal in which to track plans, questions, and desires. A journal is an important tool for reflection on a leader's journey to excellence.
Remember, the value of these activities and discussion questions is not in the doing but in the follow-on discussion with you, the coach. Be sure to allow time to discuss the "so what" and the "now what" that occur as a result of any discussion or activity.
Questions You Can Ask
Activities You Can Suggest
Squeaky Clean Model: As a leader you must model the utmost integrity and professionalism.
The harm is not in each of the little things that may have tempted you. The harm is in fooling yourself that it's okay. You need to model the highest level of integrity and professionalism for your team members. Setting an example is the most powerful act a leader can do. Besides, you have to live with yourself. This is an excellent topic for you to track in your journal.
Quote to Ponder: Michelangelo said, "Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle." What does this mean to you? How do you translate this to your daily work, your philosophy, and the business you are in? What are the trifles that you deal with? How do these trifles lead to perfection? Which trifles do you need to set a personal example? How do you plan to do that?
Make an entry in your journal. Remind yourself to review the answers to these questions next week after you've slept on it for a few days.
Set an Example: Although the following URL leads to a promotion for a DVD and book that are for sale from the Walk the Talk Company, viewing this message is worth your time if you want to always strive to be the best. www.thenightingalemovie.com/preview/ features a message from Earl Nightingale's classic, The Strangest Secret. This recording earned the first gold record for spoken word, with sales exceeding one million copies. Nightingale is known as the "dean of personal development." How is this powerful message linked to setting an example for living the vision? How can you use this information as you Model the Way for others?
Be from Missouri: As a leader you must lead by example. You influence your employees' thoughts and behavior -probably more than you think. Regardless of what appears in your job description or in employee handbooks, your behavior is the real performance standard your employees and team members will emulate. They will assume it is okay and appropriate to do whatever they see you do. This means that it is critical that you set the example. You need to model the behavior and performance you expect from others. There's no magic here. It's really quite simple: just pretend that you are from Missouri, the "show-me state." Whether it is attitude, attendance, work ethic, or respect of others, simply show your team members what you expect them to do. Identify areas where you may not be the model that you would like your team members to follow. Then decide what you will do differently. At a future time you may wish to discuss your planned changes with your supervisor.
Adapted from A Coach's Guide to Developing Exemplary Leaders: Making the Most of The Leadership Challenge and the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) by James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner, and Elaine Biech
Help leaders broaden their personal horizon, provide a stronger base from which to think of a vision for their teams, their organizations, and their communities.
This is a self-conducted exercise. Print out a copy of the worksheet for each participant to complete in a workshop, during a one-on-one coaching session, or as a takeaway from either. A short debrief conversation can follow the completion of the worksheet in live sessions.
Envision Your Future Worksheet
"Leadership is a personal endeavor. The number one thing we look for in a leader is credibility — that quality of being authentic, of having belief, word, and action in alignment."
A useful component of envisioning the future of your organization is to think hard about where you are going. An honest exploration of your personal vision will give credibility to any vision in which you wish to involve others.
Adapted from The Leadership Challenge Vision Book by Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner, and Dan Schwab.
Audience: 25 to 30 participants who are working on risk taking and experimenting
Time Required: 30 to 45 minutes
Materials and Equipment:
A large room, but no chairs and tables are required. A park, beach, or other outdoor setting is an option.
Facilitator Note: The Game of the Generals is an educational "war chessboard game" invented by Sofronio H. Pasola, Jr. in 1970. It is also called "Salpakan" in Filipino, or simply "The Generals."
1. Divide participants into two battalions (teams). Ask each battalion to assign a leader. The leader will assign the ranks/positions to members by providing each team member with a strip of paper with a rank written on it (see below). Each person should keep his or her rank secret. The table allows for 15 group members (note that there are two Three-star General strips and two One-star General strips). Should you opt to involve more than 15 members, you may assign more than one of any rank, such as three Privates and three Spies.
2. Explain that the goal is for each battalion to capture as many war prisoners as it can. As the facilitator (arbiter), determine how many series of "war rounds" will occur. Tell participants the number of rounds and provide the rules:
3. Share this example with the group. (PDF)
4. Play the stated number of rounds, identifying how many members should be sent to each battle.
5. Once all rounds have been played, count up the number of prisoners. The team with the most prisoners wins.
6. Debrief the activity by asking these kinds of questions:
The Game of the Generals is excerpted from the recently-published The Leadership Challenge Activities Book, a contributed volume containing over 100 activities designed to engage and ignite your learners. Click here for more information and to purchase a copy.
Elisa May Arboleda -Cuevas is a highly accomplished innovator and marketing professional with a solid track record of success in marketing and business development. Having worked with multi-national corporations in the Philippines and the Asia - Pacific region (such as Nestlé, DHL, and Coca-Cola), her exposure has made her an expert dealing with the workplace and has spurred her passion to be highly committed to people development and marketing communications. Currently, she is the CEO of PeopleSparx, Inc.
Audie Bautista Masigan is a training consultant at the top training and development organization in the Philippines. He is driven by his passion to develop the most important asset of any organization — its people. His overall commitment to arrive at the desired results has made him a prominent leader in the field of organizational dynamics and development in his country. He is currently the chief operating officer and chief engineer for organizational dynamics and development of PeopleSparx, Inc.
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.
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:
#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.
Objective: To help team leaders review their values with their teams and ask for input on how well their actions are aligned with these values. As a result of this activity, leaders will be able to:
Audience: Leaders and their intact teams. Optimum group size: 6 to 10 (minimum of 2 participants; maximum of 15).
Time Required: 90 minutes
Materials Needed/Set Up:
1. The team leader introduces the activity.