Over the past 10 years I have been formulating a comprehensive leadership framework based on extensive reading and 40 years of management experience which I have coined The Performance Trilogy® (learn more). Leadership is all about transforming ideas into significant results.
Mastering the fundamentals of leadership requires you develop a compelling strategy, translate that strategy into a focused execution plan and to continuously train and develop as you go. To accomplish this, you must become a three-dimensional leader.
The first leadership dimension is all about generating an idea, a vision or a goal if you will that will create a future different than the present, and then developing a compelling strategy around that vision. Strategic leaders lead from the front by changing the status quo, creating a new vision for the future and communicating it in a compelling way. This is the traditional view of “leading”. It requires imagination to look at what everyone looks at and see what no one else sees. It also requires courage to act on one’s ideas despite the naysayers. And finally, it requires persuasiveness to communicate a compelling strategy that inspires self-confidence and confidence among your team and convinces them to follow your dream.
The second leadership dimension is all about managing the present by converting the strategy into focused execution. In other words, turning ideas into results; intentions into actions. Performance leaders lead from the middle by translating the vision into concrete objectives that focus on the critical success factors necessary to achieve the desired results and then managing to achieve those objectives. This is the traditional view of “managing”. It requires conscientiousness; the motivation and discipline to be thorough and dependable. Conscientious managers plan ahead, delegate responsibly, pay attention to detail, and follow up in a disciplined way to ensure that the objectives are proceeding according to plan. It also requires a high degree of productivity; the ability to manage one’s energy and focus. And finally, it requires discernment; the ability to consistently make good decisions based on cognitive and intuitive judgement.
The third leadership dimension is all about leadership development, learning from past actions, growing, developing and adjusting along the way. This includes personal development as well as the development of your team. Servant leaders lead from the rear to support the team responsible for meeting the strategic performance objectives and empowering them, guiding them and helping them grow as leaders. This is the traditional view of “coaching”. It requires integrity; behavior that is genuine in words and actions. Integrity is the foundation upon which all trust is based. It also requires empathy; the willingness to walk a mile in another’s shoes. Servant leaders listen, think, converse, and act empathetically the majority of the time. When listening to others, they focus both intellectually on what the person is saying, but also emotionally about what the person is feeling (i.e. listening from the heart as well as the head). And finally, it requires teaching skills; the ability to foster self-learning in others.
For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, read Leading Science and Technology Organizations: Mastering the Fundamentals of Personal, Managerial, and Executive Leadership.
Stay tuned for my new free E-book coming out next month, On Becoming a Three-Dimensional Leader.