Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. (1924-2003) was a chairman of Gallup, was named the Father of Strengths-Based Psychology by the American Psychological Association. Donald O. Clifton is also the author of How Full is Your Bucket?.
Leadership style refers to the way that the leader interacts with his or her subordinates, influences their behavior, motivates them, makes decisions for them and for the organization. A specific leadership style can deeply influence the quality of work, the commitment, the work satisfaction of both leader and subordinates.
Throughout their career, to be successful, leaders need to continually assess and improve their leadership style, identify its strengths and weaknesses, adapt it to their environment, their organization and to their followers, and even combine them into one suitable and adaptable leadership style.
For leaders to adapt their leadership style to the context, they must get to know themselves and be authentic to their values and beliefs beforehand, get to understand their team members working style and expectations from a leader, get to acknowledge the company culture.
Wondering what leadership styles you have developed across the years or would like to acquire and which one is suitable to your work environment?
In order to determine the best leadership style, the leaders have to contextualize, consider the situations and the people that they face on a daily basis.
There are many leadership styles that are common to most workplaces, that most leaders identify with the most, that are more or less efficient depending on their personal background, their employees personalities and background, and on the organization culture. These leadership styles are to possibly be combined into one and modulated to different situations.
Democratic or Participative leadership
Democratic or participative leaders listen to their followers and consider their opinions, are generally high performers and high achievers. Even though they have the final say, they gather information from their employees before making a decision.
Democratic leaders influence their employees by:
- including them in the decision-making process,
- informing them about the company’s strategies and decisions,
- sharing adequate responsibilities with them,
- instilling trust, cooperation, values, synergy in their employees,
- allowing them to set their own goals,
- enabling them to improve their skills and knowledge,
- promoting, recognizing and encouraging accomplishments.
The democratic leadership style is appropriate when the leader:
- is directing a small team,
- has highly skilled and experienced employees,
- desires to be transparent, keep employees informed and involved in the decision-making process,
- wants to build up his or her employees self-worth and job satisfaction,
- is implementing changes in work processes, job roles and organizational structures,
- resolves conflicts that necessitate the employees input
The democratic leadership style is ineffective when:
- gathering employees input requires time that is lacking,
- gathering employees input is not cost-effective
Visionary or inspirational leadership
Visionary leaders share their dreams and purpose with their employees, possess an ability to inspire people, and develop drive and purpose.
Visionary leaders influence their employees by:
- stating, defining, creating and sharing a vision of the organization with them,
- acting on that vision,
- being decisive,
- winning them over.
The visionary leadership style is appropriate in innovative and complex situations.
Coaching leaders align their employees’ aspirations with the organization goals and values.
Coaching leaders influence their employees by:
- delegating challenging assignments,
- demonstrating faith that demands justification,
- teaching them how to manage their time and solve problems accurately,
- giving them some authority and independence over their work,
- promoting transparency and authenticity,
- instilling high levels of loyalty.
The coaching leadership style is appropriate when :
- employees need to build strong long-term competencies and are willing to learn from their experiences,
- employees are responsible,
- employees lack motivation or faith in the project,
- employees want to improve on their weaknesses and commit to the process,
- a toxic workplace need a turn around.
The coaching leadership style is inefficient when:
- employees resist change,
- the leader lacks expertise in the field,
Affiliative leaders bring themselves and their employees into association and create a sense of belonging. Affiliative leaders help in solving conflicts and in building teams up.
Affiliative leaders influence their employees by:
- welcoming and valuing them,
- providing frequent positive feedback,
- healing rifts between coworkers and curing toxicity,
The affiliative leadership style is appropriate when:
- employees need reassurance,
- the organization is facing stressful and volatile situations,
- morale and harmony are low,
- the organization is in reconstruction.
The affiliative leadership style is inefficient when:
- employees are complacent in their work performance,
- needing to predict the rise of conflicts and problems.
Pacesetting or Task-Oriented Leadership
Pacesetting leaders are task-oriented and directive, plan and execute assignments, make followers meet deadlines, accomplish challenging projects and reach goals, are concerned with the general effectiveness of their team. They are by the book and enforces the rules and regulations of the company.
Pacesetting leaders influence their team by:
- defining set outcomes and means to achieve these goals,
- using conditional reinforcement,
- providing rewards on performance tasks,
- differentiating employees in regards to their contributions to the team,
- showing additional support for employees that achieve set goals
- relying on deadlines, structured tasks, definite standards for performance and procedures,
- making sure that their team is effective and productive enforce standardized procedures,
- researching employee performance and behavior rather than employee satisfaction.
Pacesetting Leadership style is most appropriate when the leader has to:
- has to repetitively perform routine tasks,
- reinforce procedures and policies,
- mobilize an already motivated and skilled team,
- deliver results quickly.
Pacesetting leadership style is ineffective when:
- employees have ingrained certain work habits and refuse to break them,
- employees are no longer motivated,
- employees are burnt out,
- employees don’t go the extra mile to meet the expectations.
Commanding or Authoritarian leadership
Commanding leaders create a fearful environment to instill respect and get quick results from followers, rely on threats and punishments as incentives, lack trust in their employees and make decisions without employees input and without giving any explanation. Commanding leaders tend to retain power and demand immediate compliance.
Commanding leaders influence their employees by:
- disallowing any input, power and decision-making responsibilities to their employees,
- wanting complete and blind obedience from their employees
- using punishments and rewards as incentives,
The commanding leadership style is appropriate when:
- employees are inexperienced or lack training in a field,
- employees are not receptive to other leadership styles and there is no other way,
- time is lacking to make a decision,
- employees challenge their authority,
- the organization is facing a crisis.
The commanding leadership style is ineffective when:
- employees do not respond to threats anymore,
- employees are disengaged, unmotivated, fearful or resentful,
- the rate of employees quitting is high.
Relationship building or Bridging Leadership
Relationship building leaders are generally supportive and accepting of subordinates, use communication skills to create synergy and motivation among their subordinates, foster a climate of trust, transparency and confidence, promote collaboration and inclusion.
Relationship building leaders influence their team by:
- using unconditional reinforcements,
- recognizing the worth of their employees,
- building the self-esteem of their employees,
- building quality relationships with their employees,
- assessing how their decisions will impact their employees,
- being concerned about the welfare and satisfaction on the job of their employees.
The relationship building leadership is appropriate when:
- the leader need a collective response from their employees,
- team cohesion has previously been fractured.
Laissez-Faire or Hands-Off Leadership
The laissez-faire or hands-off leader gives his employees as much as freedom, authority and power as possible. Little or no directions is given to their subordinates that are able to determine their goals, plan and execute their tasks unsupervised.
The laissez-faire leader does not manage his or her subordinates nor use his or her influence. The laissez-faire leader interfere the least possible with employees savoir-faire and jobs to increase employees pride and motivation.
The laissez-faire leadership style is appropriate when the leader has:
- experts or consultants on his or her team,
- highly skilled, experienced, educated employees, trustworthy, prideful and driven people in his or her organization,
- employees are well-educated and experienced, are good decision makers, feel in control,
- need freedom to thrive on their job and to love their job,
- plans to expand the business and to delegate leadership responsibilities to other employees,
- employees who are in remote locations or who don’t require a lot of face to face time.
The laissez-faire leadership style is ineffective when:
- employees are worried about making mistakes,
- employees don’t have good communication skills,
- the leader’s absence, lack of feedback, lack of validation and lack of recognition makes their subordinates feel insecure,
- the leader doesn’t understand his or her responsibilities and rely on his or her subordinates to pull all the weight.
Charismatic leaders influence through their personality, share vision, captivate and persuade an audience, are self-confident, eloquent, have high energy and are emotionally intelligent. Charismatic leaders use their charisma to achieve their own goals and ambitions.
The charismatic leadership style is appropriate when:
- the leader has to inspire and raise morale,
- the leader is involved on short-term projects or projects that are lacking energy and motivation.
- the organization needs to promote its brand and expand in the marketplace.
The charismatic leadership style is inefficient when:
- the leader believes too deeply in himself or herself and feels invincible,
- the project is chaotic and needs immediate guidance and direction.
Analytic leaders analyze figures, hard data to solve problems, to make better decisions, to increase in productivity. Analytic leaders are also good at controlling their emotions.
Analytic leaders influence their employees by:
- requiring hard data from them to closely follow the execution process,
- valuing accuracy and logic,
- dismissing feelings and opinions of their employees.
The analytical leadership style is appropriate when the organization needs facts and data to advance and make a decision.
The analytical leadership style is inefficient when:
- there is too much emotional distant between the leader and the subordinates,
- the organization is facing a stressful situations and there is no time for over analysis.
Reflective leaders are introspective and often quiet or reserved, trust their insights and intuition, are emotionally intelligent, are self-aware, promote self-awareness, reflect on the impacts of decisions before taking them, and seek opportunity in failure. Reflective leaders decode observations about their organization and coworkers and excel in analyzing the behavior, body language, tone of voice of themselves and others.
Reflective leaders influence their subordinates by:
- understanding their observations about their organization and coworkers,
- understanding the reasons for a flow of events and connecting the dots,
- understanding their employees, their way of thinking, their preferences, their motivations, capabilities, strengths, weaknesses and blindspots in order to achieve a specific goal,
- being flexible in their responses, being open and sharing their thoughts and conclusions with your employees,
- actively listening to their employees and confronting their ideas or assumptions,
- setting goals, giving feedback, effectively distinguishing obstacles and picking out effective problem-solving approaches.
The reflective leadership styles is appropriate when:
- the workplace climate is conflictual and volatile,
- change is needed in the organization,
- the leader’s position is unstable.
Corrective leaders identify the past mistakes of the organization, find solutions and apply corrective actions to set it back on an ideal track, facilitate collaboration and synergy with their team.
Corrective leaders influence their subordinates by:
- setting clear goals and timelines,
- communicating effectively to identify the root of the problem,
- focusing their employees attention on the goals to correct the mistakes,
- monitoring step by step the implementation of the solution,
- implicating their employees in the planning process,
- avoiding experimenting with new ideas and untested solutions,
- keeping reports on the mistakes and the change process.
The corrective leadership style is appropriate when:
- the organization is in a state of emergency and is deteriorating,
- impactful mistakes have been made by employees,
- organizational procedures have not been followed.
The corrective leadership style is inefficient when:
- employees are skilled, educated and aware of their strengths and weaknesses,
- the organization is stable and is increasing.
Change leaders embrace innovation, system alterations, problem solving. Change leaders are determined, persistent, resistant and eager to make change happen.
Change leaders influence their subordinates by:
- explaining that change is a necessary good,
- sharing the visions of the change process results,
- removing their employees and organization out of the comfort zone,
- encouraging their employees to implement the change process and to adapt to the new versions and norms of the organization,
- sustaining the change process and incorporating it in the company’s culture,
The change leadership style is appropriate to most types of situations and organizations that have plateaued because change is nowadays detrimental to any organization’s success.
Multicultural or Cultural Intelligence Leadership
Multicultural leaders enjoy ambiguous situations and see problems as opportunities, gain energy and motivation through cross-cultural interactions, encourage innovation by taking into account their subordinates multicultural differences, advocate for understanding and mutual respect, render their subordinates effective.
Multicultural leaders influence their subordinates by:
- understanding, learning and harmonizing with the cultural backgrounds of their employees,
- adapting to diverse cultures and encouraging their employees to do the same,
- being open-minded and accepting of different cultures,
- being accountable for their actions around different cultures.
The multicultural leadership style is appropriate for multicultural or multinational corporations.
Servant leaders lead by example and choose to serve their subordinates highest needs first and lead afterwards.
Servant leaders influence their team by:
- giving all the credit to their employees,
- staying out of the spotlight,
- involving their employees in the decision-making process.
The servant leadership style is appropriate when:
- the leader is head of an association or community,
- employees pull their weight on their own.
The servant leadership styles is uncommon and inefficient in:
- corporate and organizations where leader has to make quick decisions,
- in competitive situations.
Transactional leaders gain compliance by offering rewards for good performance and severe punishments for lack of performance or of compliance.
Transactional leaders influence their employees by:
- working by the book,
- encouraging the status quo,
- compensating them for achieving goals and enforcing the company rules,
- clarifying everyone’s role and responsibility.
The transactional leadership styles is common in large administrative organizations, in urgent and conflictual situations.
Transformation Leaders share visions and goals with their subordinates, create intense emotions in them, align them with core values, unify them with a purpose and involve them in the decision process, encourage change in others and themselves. Transformational leaders wholeheartedly embrace change, challenge the status quo and invest in the development of their employees.
Transformation leaders influence their employees by:
- openly communicating a vision with them,
- not using positional authority to convince,
- encouraging them to view problems with a different perspective,
- supporting and stimulating their innovative ideas,
- challenging the status quo,
- expecting the best of them and strengthening their optimism and enthusiasm,
The transformational leadership style is appropriate when:
- the organization is dormant and require change,
- employees require optimism and enthusiasm,
- employees are detail oriented.
There are several leadership styles to choose from or that you have already identified with. No leadership style is the absolute best but is relative to a given situation.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
Building an ideal team is one of the most complex but also one of the most rewarding and advantageous responsibility of a leader. The leader has to select the team to ultimately create the best results for the organization, in light of the company’s culture and of the personality, motivation, commitment, values, performance, integrity level of his or her potential team members, with respect to his or her leadership style. When the team is built, the leader has to look out for red flags that can destroy the synergy of his or her team and easily create a lasting toxic climate.
Wondering how to detect these red flags, avoid toxicity on your team, how to extract the best results from your team members and to become the best team member you can?
A few years ago, I worked on a year-long project, under a boss who used demotions and other measures to punish some of his employees when mistakes occurred. For example, he would quickly and sadistically withdraw work responsibilities from someone he did not favor to give to someone else.
As a result, the team was a unsalvable shipwreck: every man for himself, searching for a floatation device, fighting to get on land. My former boss manipulative behavior created a toxic climate where people were continually in flight or fight mode, were mistrustful towards one another, would turn on each other, retain information and sabotage every other person efforts to succeed, were obliged to seek his “affections” and to continually prove their loyalty to him in order to feel safe in their position, were more focused on office politics than on their work, were always on the lookout of a scapegoat, were afraid of speaking up and being transparent.
The lack of trust, commitment, performance was noticeable on a daily basis. By trust, I mean the ability of the team members to admit their mistakes, acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses, stay open, transparent with one another without any repercussion on themselves or their career.
RED FLAG #1: Lack of Transparency
Teams must be able to understand each other, to interpret their respective behavior and to be candid with one another.
To enable transparency, leaders have to:
- Ask their team to reveal something personal and relevant about themselves. It can relate to their failures or successes, to their worst or most embarrassing experiences at work.
- Encourage team building to better understand one another and enable bonds.
- Assess and apply their team strengths and weaknesses by using profiling tools to get more insights into their behavior such as the DISC assessment, Social Style model, Right Path Profiles, Insights, MBTI).
- Define a clear purpose for the team.
- Explain major decisions from the organization to their team and include them in the flow of relevant information.
- Maintain trust overtime and create unanimity.
- Consistently tell the truth to their followers, be comfortable with it and practise integrity.
- Value openness, empower those who tell the truth and must not reward those who do otherwise.
RED FLAG #2: Fear of conflict
In teams, conflicts do exist, are raw and real, are to be expected, and shouldn’t be avoided. In addition, they occur because we were born into different generations, backgrounds, with different personalities, values and morals.
Furthermore, conflict is always seen in a negative light or as a destructive process.
However, conflicts can be healthy and productive too. And even though conflicts are uncomfortable and make you feel under attack, they are necessary for personal and organizational progress, are used to generate the best decisions for the organization and to make team meetings mire engaging. In order to establish a conflict culture, it is imperative that leaders:
- Create a structure where it is safe for their team members to express themselves without feeling the need to attack.
- Hold their team accountable to the conflict system established.
- Focus the conflict on the issue at hand to avoid personal attacks.
- Assess each team member conflict capabilities/profiles with MBTI to develop the appropriate approach.
- Ask their team members directly his they deal with conflicts.
- be conflict generators, define conflict resolution, ease anxious team members in the face if conflict and find courage to speak truth to power.
RED FLAG #3: Lack of Commitment
Commitment is the willingness to achieve common goals as a team, the ability of team members to align themselves with the organization purpose, values and strategies even in disagreement with the decision taken.
To enhance team commitment, leaders must:
- Embrace conflicts, divergent opinions, ideas and perspectives.
- Among conflicting ideas, make wise decisions and be unafraid to displease some team members.
- Before making a decision, understand and consider all ideas.
- Clarify their decisions with the team and write down them down to avoid ulterior assumptions and ambiguities.
RED FLAG #4: Lack of accountability
Team members must keep each other accountable for their behavior, their mistakes and lack of performance. If no one is held accountable, team members gradually lose respect for each other and moral decreases. Leaders must:
- Lead by example, call out mishaps, low results and misconduct.
- Make every team member aware of each other contributions and functions on the team.
- Track everyone’s progress and accurately measure performance.
- Measure team success using objective and liable means.
- Measure progress with timelines.
- Focus on areas of productivity.
- Make sure that the collective interest in results exceeds the individual needs of the team.
How to be an effective team member?
- Develop your communication skills
- Make sure that you are understood and are open to clarifying misunderstandings.
- Monitor your non verbal communication. Keep your body language positive and opened.
- Look at the person you’re exchanging with.
- If a problem occurs between you and someone else, fix it before the problem festers by talking to that person as soon as possible. This shows that you are willing to work through issues, that you are a problem solver instead of being inappropriate and ineffective.
- Give sincere and appropriate positive feedback to your team members.
- Develop your listening skills
To demonstrate your interest in learning new skills, to better understand the other person, you have to:
- be willing to listen more that you speak and voice your opinion in due time.
- Implement the conversation with probing question
- Request other people opinion before giving yours.
- Avoid planning your responses during the conversation.
- Encourage the conversation with nods, smiles and eye contact.
- Manage your tasks and time.
Put your understanding of the team task into writing in order to clarify immediate issues and to have a reference for time and deadlines measurement.
- Own up to your actions.
Failing to follow through on your team assignments is synonym to letting your team down. To stay accountable for your part:
- Keep your promises
- Offer to help coworkers in time of need
- Avoid procrastination and do not hesitate yo ask for help.
- Avoid blaming others for your mistakes take the blame if you have done something wrong.
- Find solutions to issues instead if creating them.
- Learn from each and very situations and move on group them.
- Avoid repeating past mistakes.
- Work on interrelationship skills
In the team, you have to cooperate with your coworkers and work well with your supervisor. To do so:
- Treat everyone with respect
- Avoid stereotypes and jumping to conclusions
- Avoid gossip and keep confidences
- Share your knowledge with your team.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey distinguishes two major social paradigms that have embodied the search for success and the “fundamental principles of human effectiveness” since 1776: the Character Ethic and the Personality Ethic.
According to Stephen R. Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, in the United States, from 1776 to WWI, leadership culture was based around building character. It was said that Character Ethic was the foundation of long-term success: leaders were thought values and habits to develop their basic character.
However, from World War I to Today, leadership and success teachings have been promoting Personality Ethic. Personality Ethic provides quick fixes to help an individual deceive their way to the top, to success and to leadership positions. Personality Ethic teachings work short-term, don’t fix issues but just disguise them.
Moreover, Covey claims that we possess several paradigms or maps of how we see things and a map of how things should be which comes from our values. These maps are the basis of our attitudes and behaviors. Paradigms, which are our frame of reference or assumptions, are affected by our conditioning through life, by the influences of our friends and family, of our institutions, our culture, of our historical backgrounds, systems of beliefs, life experiences.
As a result, our attitudes and behaviours are congruent of our paradigms. So therefore, attempting to change only our attitudes and behaviors, as instilled by the Personality Ethic movement, is completely useless and is short-termed. In order to implement change in our character or a “paradigm shift“, it is then necessary to directly assess our paradigms, to examine them, to test them against reality, to listen to others and to be open to their perception.
The term “paradigm shift” is coined from the Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. It means breaking with tradition, old beliefs, old assumptions, old paradigms. Paradigms shift can be toward a positive or negative direction, “instantaneous or developmental” and “create a powerful change”.
Throughout The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey suggests that we shift our paradigms back to the Character Ethic, that we start shifting our thinking from the inside and introduces seven habits to enhance personal and interpersonal effectiveness.
The Character Ethic is a general and fundamental truth, universally applicable, unchangeable and unarguable laws and “principles that govern human effectiveness”, that are “bigger than people or circumstances”, that innately exist in all human beings, are common to all civilization and that triumph time and time again.
Acquiring Character Ethic is the basis of high level of trust in companies, is a long process that should be natural ad cannot be a shortcut. First step to the process is admitting your ignorance or lack of knowledge.
What is a habit?
Character is the composite of embedded habit, and it is necessary to solve the problems we face from the inside out because private victories exceed public victories.
A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skills and desire and is a natural force like gravity. Breaking a habit can be a painful process, demands effort and technique, should be motivated by a higher purpose, a willingness to sacrifice our current desire for a future and unseen desire.
What are the seven habits?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People moves us on the maturity continuum. It brings us from a state of dependence where we need others to accomplish something for us, to a state of independence where we are self-reliant, self-motivated, derive our self-worth from within and are freed from external dependence, to a state of interdependence where we are self-reliant and competent in our own right but able to work with others, and believe that together we accomplish more.
In addition, the seven habits are habits of effectiveness, a balance between the production of a desired result and the investment in the ability to produce or in the physical, financial and human, asset that produces. Covey believes that to achieve effectiveness , we must strike the P/PC balance, where P stands for Production and PC for Production Capability.
The 3 following habits are the habits of Private Victory. These habits are used to become more confident, to know yourself deeper and to acknowledge your contribution capacity, to define yourself from within instead of using society’s point of view to define yourself. Stephen R. Covey encourages us to develop the habits of being proactive, keeping our future goals in mind and of creating our vision.
HABIT #1: Be proactive
In management literature, being proactive means taking initiative. Here, it also means being responsible for our lives and our decisions, being able to choose a response when faced with a stimulus.
Proactive people, unlike reactive people:
- Are unaffected by their physical environment and are value driven. Their performance and attitudes remain constant whether it rains or shines.
- Are unaffected by their social environment. they don’t build their emotional lives around people weaknesses and don’t allow those weaknesses to control their lives and decisions. Instead they surrender their emotions to their values and don’t allow reactive language to affect them.
- Take the initiative. Act before being acted upon, provide solution to a problem and enable growth and opportunity.
- Look to focus their time and energy on areas that they can control or influence. Indeed, they don’t focus on others weaknesses and problems and uncontrollable events.
- Constantly work on their habits, change from the inside-out.
- Take full responsibility for their short-comings.
- Are free to choose their actions but understand that they cannot control the consequences of these actions.
- Govern their behaviors with principles, acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them and correct them immediately.
- Have integrity: they make and keep their commitments and promises.
- Monitor their language and the language of the people around them.
- Identify past and potential experiences to which they have behaved reactively and play out scenarios towards a solution.
HABIT #2: Begin with the end in mind
For Stephen R. Covey, beginning with the end in mind means using the “end of your life as your frame of reference or criterion by which everything else is examined”, starting with “a clear understanding of your destination” to “know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right destination”. To begin with the end in mind:
- Use habit #1 to be proactive to change preexisting thought, shift your paradigm, examine your deepest values.
- Be aware and conscious of your limitless potential, of your uniqueness.
- Be imaginative enough to visualize the unseen.
- Be responsible and response-able.
- Do not violate the criteria that you have set for yourself.
- Lead yourself daily in order to execute what really matters.
- Develop a “personal mission statement or philosophy or creed” describing your aspiring character, achievements, contributions, values and principles. The personal mission statement becomes your guide and standard, provides you with a sense of mission, helps define your short-termed and long-termed goals and allows change because your core has now become changeless. Basically, developing a personal mission statement makes you much more effective because your energy, time and strengths are dedicated to areas that matter to you. Personal mission statements are not to be written overnight but might take several weeks because they require deep introspection. Also, they have to be written alone and reviewed many times before producing a final form.
HABIT #3: Put first things first
Stephen R. Covey believes that all things are created twice, by design or by default. The first creation starts in the mind where you envision the future and you plan for a destination. The second creation is physical: you bring what you visualize into reality and you take the best route towards your planned destination.
For Covey, leadership is the first creation and management is the second. Indeed, leadership creates the way, opens the pathway, provides direction and a destination. On the other hand, management clears the pathway by “writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies and setting up working schedules and contributions programs”.
To be able to physically create and implement your vision into reality, you have to:
- be proactive, understand that you are in control and are able to change your paradigm,
- envision your potential and your destination and be self-ware,
- have discipline to effectively carry out your plans, to stick to your values and to manage your time and life,
- prioritize, schedule, select goals and leave space for unanticipated events,
- delegate responsibility to skilled and trained individuals to focus their energy on high-leverage activities.
“Private Victory precedes Public Victory. Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others”.
On one hand, Habits #1, #2 and #3 are habits of Private Victory and are about developing your inner self, your character and your core values.
on the other hand, Habits #4, #5, #6 are habits of Public Victory, help in improving your relationship with others and working successfully with others.
Using the Personality Ethic, we might have a superficial and duplicitous relationship with others. Difficulty in relationships translates into tolerable chronic emotional pain that can turn into psychosomatic diseases. The symptoms of these emotional pains cannot be treated with quick fixes and techniques from the Personality Ethic.
Nevertheless, the Character Ethic provides a foundation for effective interdependence. The interdependence paradigm teaches us to:
- seek to understand others and stimulate their deep interest or needs,
- attend to kindness and courtesies,
- keep commitments and promises to people in order to build trust,
- clarify expectations from the start to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts,
- manifest integrity by being honest, loyal to those who are not present, by treating everyone with the same set of principles,
- help others “feel secure and safe and validated and affirmed in their essential worth, identity and integrity”,
- handle problems and see them as opportunities.
HABIT #4: Think Win/Win
Stephen R. Covey identifies 6 paradigms of human interaction:
- The Win/Win paradigm. People with this paradigm seek mutual benefits in all human interactions, believe that life is a cooperation and not a competition, that a “person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others”.
- The Win/Lose paradigm. People with this paradigm don’t create synergy or cooperation, use the authoritarian or commanding leadership style and are accustomed to low trust and competitive environments.
- The Lose/Win paradigm. People with this paradigm have no standard, no demands, no expectation, no vision, search for popularity and acceptance, are quick to please and appease, repress their emotions and feelings, and are easily intimidated by ego strengths of others.
- The Lose/Lose paradigm. People with this paradigm live by the “philosophy of the highly dependent person without inner direction”, who is miserable and thinks everyone else should be too.
- The Win paradigm. People with this mentality seek to win not necessarily wanting the other party to lose or win.
- The Win/Win or No Deal paradigm. If no synergistic solution is brought to the table that could satisfy both parties, then there is no deal. This paradigm provides emotional freedom.
Stephen R. Covey promotes the Win/Win paradigm and establishes that a Win/Win person possesses specific character traits: they have integrity, they have maturity which means that they are able to express their views with consideration to others, and they have the abundance mentality which means that they believe that there is enough for everyone.
Of course, not all decisions are Win/Win, but to know when to apply the Win/Win paradigm, you must understand the problem from another perspective, identify the other person’s issues and concerns, other acceptable results, and new possible outcomes for the situation.
HABIT #5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood
To be able to influence and to develop effective interpersonal communication skills, it is better to diagnose a situation before prescribing or proving advice.
To understand another person’s emotional and intellectual paradigm, Covey instructs us to listen empathetically, without making assumptions, and warns us to not listen to reply, manipulate, control or sympathize.
Empathic listening takes time initially but saves time afterwards, is risky because you become vulnerable to influence. That is why we must develop a changeless core of principles, erected in Habits #1, #2, #3.
Furthermore, seeking to be understood requires maturity, an ability to present your ideas clearly, specifically, visually and contextually and an ability to consider all the facts and perceptions. To take preventive measures, schedules one-on-one before issues arise.
HABIT #6: Synergize
Synergy means that “the whole is greater than the sums of its parts”, and is used to create cooperation in our social interaction. To create synergy on a daily basis:
- value and respect social, mental and emotional differences to nurture people self-esteem and self-worth. Effective people acknowledge the limits if their perceptions, appreciate diverse interactions because they had to this person’s knowledge and understanding of reality, increase their awareness,
- build on strengths and compensate weaknesses,
- be open to new possibilities, alternatives and options,
- be open to learning and to other’s influence.
HABIT #7: Sharpen the Saw
Finally, Habit #7 sums up the entire book. Habit #7 is about investing, preserving and enhancing your preexisting assets and means exercising sound motivation and organisation in four different dimensions:
- The physical dimension is about caring for the health of our body by eating right and exercising.
- The “spiritual dimension provides leadership in your life”, is your core and your commitment to your value system.
- The mental dimension come from formal eduction, expansion of the mind.
- The social/emotional dimension that is centered on developing interpersonal leadership, empathic communication and creative cooperation.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-development book that has been on my shelf for longest while. It was written in 1989 but is still contemporaneous and can very much serve as guide to life, for personal and professional growth.
I avidly took notes in the perspective of actively applying every single tip and read it twice in order to capture the very essence of the book.
I recommend it to all leaders that are trying to integrate core values and to ingrain “good” habits into their character in order to experience success, to increase their effectiveness at work and to become the best leader that they can be.
I like that each paragraph are interconnected and that the author is personally implicated, is genuine with his approach and his drive to see us succeed and become more effective.
Covey calls out the books since World War I, promoting Personality Ethic, that provide quick fixes and band aids to deep-rooted problems. These books suggest techniques and principles to encourage leaders to put up a front and act like a leader would and not actually be a leader. Covey is also being very transparent about the dysfunction of the society these days, willing to manipulate and deceive their way to the top.
Finally, he reminds us that it is not all that shines that is glitter: the deception does not last very long and the leadership tower crashes because it has no basis and because the leadership house was built on sand.
If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other — while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity — then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do — even using so-called good human relations techniques — will be perceived as manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique.
You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.
Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.
I have been nominated for the first time for the blogger recognition award by the lovely Melanated Butter Fly! I am grateful, excited and flattered to have been nominated after a few months of blogging.
The Melanated Butter Fly is a travel blog, filled with adventure and beautiful landscapes and experiences, all from the perspective of a young South African woman: Nolusindiso “Nolu” Hleko.
How did I start my Journey To Leadership Blog?
I started my blog to help graduates transition smoothly to the corporate life, to help people improve their corporate skills, leadership skills and to advance their career.
Since, I have mostly been writing about overcoming toxic people, the methods to handling toxic situations, withstanding the hiring process, divulging the hard truths about corporate. This stems from a desire to help people survive hard times because i belive good times are innately easy to handle.
I also write about finding your strengths and weaknesses, making the most of your strength, identifying your purpose and calling, developing character and core values, and becoming the best leader you can be. I believe that you have to grow as an individual and as a leader, stand stall with your core values, to pick yourself back up and to have something to look forward to in life.
Advice for new bloggers?
I would advice my fellow bloggers to:
- Stay committed to their blog, to their creative decisions and to their followers. Don’t allow setbacks or lack of income to discourage you from building the blog of your dreams or from implementing your vision.
- Keep learning from other blogs in your niche and outside of your niche. Read books, be open to new experiences and to new acquaintances.
The Journey To Leadership has nominated the following 10 blogs:
- Danny Writes – For his social and political consciousness.
- A Shieldmaiden Life – For the ability to face realities, to be undefeated by life and to seek to inspire others.
- Fare Machine Blog – For sharing practical travel tips, regional gastronomy and encouraging us to travel by promoting wonderful landscapes.
- Iamots – For seeking to empower and motivate others.
- Digital Advice – For providing useful tips for blogging and marketing.
- Maroon Oak – For connecting women professionals to each other, helping women find a work life balance.
- Live Learn Laugh – For the desire to empower women in their community and to encourage them towards self-confidence, self-leadership and self-acceptance.
- JthreeNMe – For her parenting and marriage advice and especially for the piece Dear Little Girl With The Smart Mouth.
- On Women’s Mind – For her strong opinion about fashion, beauty, parenting.
- Women To Leaders – For her coverage of political and events and women working conditions in the world.
Here are the rules:
- Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
- Give a brief story of how your blog started.
- Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
- Select 10 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
- Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.
In The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value, Andrew Kakabadse acknowledges the complexities of leadership and researches the factors for leadership success, in the fast-paced and complex global marketplace. The skills needed to succeed in the past are today insufficient.
Andrew Kakabadse suggests that creating value is the origin of success, the definition of success depending on the type of value the organization wants to create and on the way they want to create value.
What is value?
Creating value should be the “primary purpose of leadership”.
The notion of value stretches itself from going public to the number of stakeholders, from not losing money to making profit, from creating quality products to retaining customers, from contributing to society to connecting stakeholders, customers, suppliers, others individuals to the activity of the organization.
What is success?
“[…] success is the creation of value — economic and social benefits and outcomes that serve a purpose for the people they are intended to help, in accordance with a set of values that the organization subscribes to”.
What is considered failure?
Failure is the destruction of value or the unsuccessful delivery of value due to bad management.
Organizations propose value by holding on to their client and audience, and by explaining how they do well uniquely. Several scenarios can be played out regarding the value proposition:
- If there isn’t any value proposition clearly defined, leaders are easily derailed and pursue purposeless strategies.
- If the value proposition isn’t readjusted to fit the context, leaders are blindsided by the event and lack flexibility.
- If the value proposition is known to be used and a strategy has been implemented around it, but the value proposition has never been tested, then the value proposition of the organization is doomed to fail.
- Only if the value proposition of the company is continually being tested, interrogated and evidence pursued, that the organization can be successful.
How to create value? How to create sustainable value?
Leaders approach value creation differently by:
Approach #1: Replicating a previous strategy. This approach is the most commonly applied in organizations. However, this approach is flawed if the leader constantly employs the same strategy to different situations, without being allowed to evolve and adapt to new situations.
Approach #2: Intuitively formulating an unproven strategy. This approach is flawed if the leader doesn’t challenge the facts and doesn’t test his strategy.
Approach #3: Interrogating and proving a hypothetical strategy with evidence. This third approach is the most accurate because leaders need to gather evidence, data, engage with people within their context to be able to make decisions accordingly. This approach requires a combination of “diversity of thinking”, strategy, engagement and alignment to create value.
Subsequently, two leadership models derive from the three approaches for value creation:
Model #1: The creation of “perceived value”
This is an old leadership model, driven by the belief of the leader. Leaders who create perceived value tend to visualize the bigger picture and to put strategy first.
Model #2: The creation of “delivered value”
This is a new and current leadership model, driven by evidence. In this model, leaders maintain close relationships with the society of the organization (stakeholders, customers, …), gather evidence from them about the advancement of value creation and about the implementation of the strategy.
What is the success formula?
To make sense of value creation in organization that are either evidence-led or strategy-led, Andrew Kakabadse came up with three formulas:
STRATEGY x (ENGAGEMENT + ALIGNMENT) = VALUE PROPOSITION
Formula #1 makes sense of value creation in organizations driven by strategy and disengaged with their contextual reality.
(STRATEGY x ALIGNMENT) + ENGAGEMENT = VALUE PROPOSITION
The formula above represents a situation in which leaders implement a strategy, with which everyone is on board, at a human and cultural cost.
Formula #3 — The Success Formula
STRATEGY + (ENGAGEMENT x ALIGNMENT) = VALUE DELIVERY
The success formula represents an organizations where consensus is first achieved before formulating a strategy that will continually be tested.
What are the other factors for success?
Value delivery is the starting point of success. It is also necessary to seek out different point of views, different perspectives to build a composite understanding of the organization and to sustain success. “Diversity of thinking and engagement are the two sides of the same coin”. Diversity of thinking does not include gender, age, nationality but means “diverse in mind”.
Leaders who want to promote diversity of thinking within their organization must:
- have a “passion for diversity of thinking”. Leaders should be curious, enjoy learning about themselves and the world, should be “open to new experiences and perspectives”.
- have international exposure. Leaders are compelled to welcome and search for international exposures for organizational and personal growth.
- advocate for open communication to instill trust and to encourage positive attitude towards challenges. Open communication comes from exposure to different cultures, which teaches the leaders how to adapt to different environments and to work with different cultures.
- engage with the organization. Leaders can start promoting the culture of diversity of thinking within the corporation, be active listeners and respond to people accordingly.
- build their team. Leaders are obliged to select the right people to make the right decisions and to avoid group-thinking.
Diversity of thinking is at the center of the success formula. Leaders must encourage “diversity of thinking” by listening and showing respect.
How to create a culture of diversity of thinking?
In The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value, Andrew Kakabadse put together seven “disciplines” to help create a culture of diversity of thinking, and therefore to fulfill the success formula.
Discipline #1: Evidence Collection
Evidence creates alignment and engagement and allow leaders to reach a balance of opinions. Gathering evidence is part of a transparent process, gives a realistic overview of the market and the position of the company or the market, and allows leaders to gain knowledge in their respective fields.
- deeply believe that the evidence gathering process can move towards success.
- start gathering evidence from day one.
- assemble hard evidence as well as soft evidence, and are comfortable with constructive criticism.
- emphasize on the quality of the evidence.
- actively listen and engage with divergent thinking.
- use evidence to back up their strategies and to debate.
- make time for debates even if evidence is a slow process and delays decision.
- seek evidence in a structured manner.
Discipline #2: Mission Delimitation
Defining a mission for the organization means defining a clear purpose for the organization in order to promulgate their core values.
Needless to say that the nature of these core values is critical: successful organizations promote “inclusiveness and an environment suitable for innovation, the building of trust, and the spotting of new opportunities”.
Discipline #3: Alignment Enhancement
Alignment, “the logic and structure to execute strategy”, is a vital element in fulfillment of the success formula. There are 3 types of alignment:
- “Alignment of thinking between the key players” in order to execute strategy. This type of alignment starts with the hiring process.
- Alignment of structure to gain in efficiency.
- Alignment of operational system, protocols, processes to facilitate the execution of strategy.
Discipline #4: Engagement Enhancement
Engagement, “the desire, willingness, motivation (or demotivation) to make the structures and the processes work”, is difficult to achieve because it is impossible to control people.
Corporations with the highest level of engagement are not led by charismatic nor visionary leaders but are led by humble leaders, with listening skills that treat people fairly, that are open-minded and that reward people for their effort.
Discipline #5: Leadership Style Improvement
In addition to being driven by evidence, to leading with purpose, leaders display 3 main qualities:
- a high level of IQ to respond to the challenges that the organization faces and build “pathways through demanding circumstances”.
- “a profound moral consciousness” which requires integrity and an accurate and sensitive understanding of the context.
- a “persuasive advocacy” which is an ability to “walk the talk and talk the walk”.
Discipline #6: Governance Balance
Governance has two vital dimensions: monitoring and mentoring that are linked to the performance of the organization.
“Monitoring is all about the controls, protocols, and procedures that provide early warning signals and enable the board to take action to prevent wrongdoing or bad decisions”. “It is mentoring that makes the governance difference. This stewardship requires time, commitment, and consideration of how and with whom to engage”.
Discipline #7: Wisdom Development
Wisdom allows the increase of alignment and engagement. Wisdom is “earned through years of experience”, “comes from reflection and a willingness to keep on learning”.
Wise leaders learn to conveniently engage with people, patiently work through issues and dilemmas, accurately solve problems instead of rushing through them.
The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value is a robust academic research publication, with simple theories. These theories are illustrated with several real life, relatable, contemporaneous case studies from which leaders can grab inspiration.
Through one simple formula, Kakabadse was able to represent the complexities of todays organizations and highlight the difficulties of putting this formula into practise.
Furthermore, I believe this book is ideal for leaders:
- starting a business or company and are wondering how to create value and a competitive advantage within their company,
- looking to ensure a healthy workplace,
- looking to evaluate their organizations and detect potential issues,
- who have been derailed by a strategy-led organization,
- who are in organizations that are restructuring and want to promote an evidence-led culture in their organization.
Finally, I enjoyed the fact that Andrew Kakabadse stressed that evidence-led leadership does not happen overnight, that the leader’s job is not easy and every decisions have to be thought through, analyze and tested beforehand, and that the organization’s success is not only due to the leader but also to the contribution of the team, and that leaders have to showcase strong core values.
“[…] success is the creation of value — economic and social benefits and outcomes that serve a purpose for the people they are intended to help, in accordance with a set of values that the organization subscribes to”.
Whether it’s originated in our History or Culture, whether it’s from watching television or from frequenting our friends and family, we all have a clear picture in our minds of what great leadership is or should be. We also have in mind which competencies and qualities are ideally associated to great leadership.
Wondering if that picture you nurture in your mind coincides with reality and what makes leadership so important?
What is great leadership?
Leadership is the ability to wheel power, to influence people positively in order to be successful, to bring like-minded individuals together towards a common goal or vision and to translate that vision into reality.
Influence allows leaders to gain consistent support for their views and opinions while building relationships with other individuals, groups or organization on a daily basis. It also helps leaders improve teamwork, and gain more credibility, and respect.
Furthermore, influence is used to win others over, to persuade and convince without having to subject anyone to manipulation, force, command or control. It consists in a core competency in today’s workplace.
Why is leadership important?
Not everyone is a leader. Not everyone is given an opportunity to lead or not everyone has made the conscious decision to lead. Not everyone wants to be a leader because leadership requires time, knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence. Some people are actually leaders but not in all aspects of their lives. At last, others leaders emerge later in life.
Moreover, the importance for leadership and the motivation for leadership go hand in hand. Everybody is motivated differently by leadership: you can be motivated by a search for prestige, status, respect, deference, money, power, an increase in power of decision, a will to make the world a better place by servicing others, a strong desire to embody a vision and to bring that vision into reality.
In addition, without great leadership, chaos flares up.
The key competencies for great leadership
I believe that the nine competencies below are the foundation of great contemporaneous leadership:
- Demonstrating integrity and instilling trust in employees. Leaders must be capable of being responsible and accountable, of becoming an exemplar of wanted behaviors and values, treating others with respect, of doing the right thing, of walking the walk and walking the talk. According to Warren Bennis, “there is no difference between becoming an effective leader and becoming a fully integrated human being”.
- Learning continuously to be able to deal with personal and organizational complexities, to grow and become more effective, and finally to challenge the status quo.
- Share vision to inspire has purpose. A vision is what you want to create, to embody and achieve as a leader. The leader’s vision has everything to do with his or her purpose and is often reflected in his or her behavior.
- Thinking and acting innovation. Remarkable leaders know how to champion, plan and implement change successfully. .
- Possessing good decision-making skills. Leaders are able to identify problems and find solutions, and measure the outcome of those solutions.
- Maintaining strong communication skills. Leaders must be good speakers as well as good and active listeners. Communication skills increase the leader’s influence in the workplace. The best way to showcase your communication skills is to:
- delay your speech, analyze your audience by getting to know their background, situation, history, values, enhance your rhetoric and work on the delivery of your speech.
- describe the situation you want to change, its impacts and its solutions.
- ask for other people input by professional courtesy and be open for discussion.
- Developing emotional intelligence. Exceptional leaders get to know themselves before getting to know others, lead themselves before leading others, use their emotions at work but don’t let their emotions use them.
- Building healthy relationships and connecting with your followers. Indeed, outstanding leaders hold your employees to a higher standard, with higher expectations with the belief that their employees can meet them. They also provide feedback, invest in their employees personal strengths, value collaboration and team work in order to connect to your workforce.
- Developing others by mentoring and coaching them in order to sustain high performance employees, to train them for leadership positions and to strengthen employees weaknesses and to help “difficult” employees to fit into the corporate culture. A great leader is a catalyst, facilitator that allow each member of the team to shine. By then, employees commitment and productivity will be increased. Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (2009) said it right in Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow: “Perhaps the ultimate test of a leader is not what you are able to do in the here and now – but instead what continues to grow long after you’re gone.”.
The skills of leaders are transferable to every aspect or role of their lives: they are applicable to their community, neighborhood.
Acquiring all those skills all at once are not realistic: a leader must assess his or her strengths and weaknesses to know which competencies he or she already possess and which competencies to develop first.
Are you currently viewed as a potential leader?
You are viewed as a potential leader if:
- people regularly come to you for advice, for brainstorming or problem solving,
- you are progressively given more responsibility on a project by your boss,
- your boss asks for your opinion on a subject matter before an “above your pay grade” meeting
- or you are included in your coworkers social activities.
If you are not being perceived as a leader, start with these small steps:
- Respect the company’s culture, work protocols and procedures and perform well.
- Offer your help when there is extra work to do in the office. This will show that you are ready to roll up your sleeves for the success of the project, to apply yourself effectively without complaining.
- Volunteer outside of work. This will allow you to test your leadership skills, to inquire whether leadership is made for you or not, to learn new skills and mostly to make mistakes with less consequence to your career.
- Read or write articles about leadership development and take courses to increase your knowledge about leadership.
- Cultivate your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter by Robert Bruce Shaw
According to Robert Bruce Shaw, in Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter, great leadership emanates from an ability to make great decisions which comes from making bad decisions and learning from them. The sooner in your career that those bad decisions are made, the better.
Of course, you make fewer mistakes as you progress in your career and as you experience the outcomes of the mistakes, but you never stop making them. In addition, mistakes are more costly as you move up the ladder in a company and can potentially derail your career.
In light of this issue, in Leadership Blindspots, Robert Bruce Shaw investigates the existence of leadership blindspot, an “unrecognized weakness or threat that has the potential to undermine a leader’s success” and that becomes evident in the way your team, organizations and markets are perceived.
How to characterize leadership blindspots?
First of all, leadership blindspots are often associated to leadership strengths. They appear whenever the leader is utilizing his or her strengths at work. Second of all, blindspots don’t disappear, even if you are fully aware of them. Thirdly, blindspots are situational, adaptive and can be helpful. And finally, blindspots are able to impact other people and followers.
Advice for understanding and dealing with leadership blindspots?
Furthermore, blindspots come with a price and has to be recognized by the leader in order for him or her to find a balance. To do so, leaders have to weigh two conflicting needs:
- their need for acting with confidence, believing strongly in their vision, and having faith in themselves, their abilities.
- their need for assessing their limitations in order to avoid overconfidence or excessive optimism.
The complex balance between self-confidence and self-doubt is unnatural, contradictory but necessary, depends on each individual and each situation.
If there are too many blindspots, the leader can be overly confident and arrogant. If there are too few blindspots, the leader is somewhat realistic about the obstacles to face, is aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses.
Are there different levels of blindness?
There are three levels of blindness that a leader could experience:
- Lack of awareness level. This is the “most extreme form of a blindspot”. At this level, leaders are constantly surprised or blindsided by events.
- Faulty assessment level. At this level, leaders are in denial: they refuse to acknowledge risks, to analyze known weaknesses, and to understand the causes and consequences of their blindspots.
- Failure to act level. At this level, leaders know the risks, threats and weaknesses that lay ahead but fail to act on them for lack of skills and resolve. Those leaders are adept to the rule “when in doubt, do nothing” or rather remain in their comfort zones.
How to identify your leadership blindspots?
In order to identify your blindspots:
- review your past and present mistakes. Mistakes are indicative of blindspots, areas of lack of self-awareness, and areas of faulty patterns of thinking and behavior. It is advised to identify the most significant mistakes, their causes, patterns of behavior and thinking associated to these mistakes and the actions to be taken on the behalf of the leader to prevent those mistakes from reoccurring.
- Consider honest and useful feedback from your trusted advisors.
- Gain additional insight by taking the blindspot assessment survey.
Then, question the relative importance of your blindspots in your career and its impacts on yourself, the organization to distinguish which blindspot requires your immediate attention.
What are the different types of leadership blindspots?
Robert Bruce Shaw has classified leadership blindspots in 20 categories:
- “Overestimating your strategic capabilities”
- “Valuing being right over being effective”
- “Failing to balance the what with the how”
- “Not seeing your impact on others”
- “Believing the rules don’t apply to you”
- “Thinking the present is the past”
- “Failing to focus on the vital few”
- “Taking for granted your team model”
- “Overrating the talent on your team”
- “Avoiding the tough conversations”
- “Trusting the wrong individuals”
- “Not developing real successors”
- “Failing to capture hearts and minds”
- “Losing touch with your shop floor”
- “Treating information and opinion as fact”
- “Misreading the political landscape”
- “Putting personal ambition before the company”
- “Clinging to the status quo”
- “Underestimating your competitors”
- “Being overly optimistic”
Which factors trigger blindspots?
Blindspots often go hand in hand with the leader’s strengths and reappear unexpectedly when the leader does what he or she does best. There are few factors that lead to blindspots areas:
- “Experience gaps“. The blindspot stems from a lack of experience or from a habit of using past experiences to extrapolate a present situation.
- “Information overload” describes an inability to pay attention to everything that is happening when engaged in a complex and challenging task.
- “Emotional bias” corresponds to an emotional involvement in a particular situation or outcome that clouds judgement.
- “Cognitive dissonance” is a psychology term associated to a state in which leaders hold two conflicting views of their self-image. The “conflict is resolved through rationalizing one’s belief or actions in a manner that sustains one’s positive self-image” which reinforces the blindspot.
- “Misaligned incentives” are compensation systems that are “designed to focus attention and effort within an organization, with the result being that people focus more on some areas than on others”.
- “Hierarchical distortion”. The information transmitted to hierarchy becomes distorted, false, incomplete because:
- high-ranking leaders are sometimes detached from the lower levels of the organization.
- subordinates tend to sugarcoat information by deference or by fear of retaliation.
- high-ranking leaders pay less attention to less powerful people.
- “Overconfidence“. Leaders overestimates their own capabilities, skills and knowledge.
How to overcome blindspots?
According to Robert Bruce Shaw, it is not possible to completely suppress blindspots but it is important to recognize them and find ways to work with them?
To handle blindspot:
- Make an assessment of the problem on your own, stay on contact with frontliners, customers, markets and high potential individuals.
- Invest in metrics, processes and data that challenge the leader’s beliefs and basic assumptions.
- Develop an ability to recognize, prioritize blindspot warning signs.
- Consider feedback from trusted advisors.
- “Leaders need to test their ideas and discuss emerging threats with a diverse team of individuals who respect each other’s experience and abilities but are also willing to push each other to reach the best outcomes on the truly critical issues”.
In conclusion, leaders are flawed individuals with strengths, weaknesses and blindspots that are to be acknowledged. Blindspots often show up when the leader is using his or her strengths or reverts to their comfort zone, and cannot be completely resolved.
It is up to the leader to stay on the lookout for blindspots, to strike up a balance between self-confidence and self-doubt.
In Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter, Robert Bruce Shaw analyses leadership behaviors when it comes to blindspots and weaknesses. He illustrates every single one of his thoughts on blindspots with great and renown leadership examples and concludes each example with an analysis and lessons to take away. Furthermore, not only this book contains realistic and applicable examples, each paragraph of this book can be read on standalone.
In addition, Robert Bruce Shaw provides us with a tool —the blindspot assessment survey— for us to identify whether or not we possess blindspots and to what degree we have incubated them. I recommend this book to employees who are failing to lead and to boost their careers.
It has come to my knowledge that because of my belief system, I am an adept of the rule “when in doubt, stand still” which has not bothered my career but has increased my serenity. After taking the blindspot assessment test, I have received a low probability of blindspots as I am self-aware of my strengths and of my weaknesses.
Finally, Leadership Blindspots was intriguing to me because there are so many books about leadership strengths and developing them. I appreciated the fact that he mentioned the need for transparency (better visibility of mistakes thanks to the media) which put leaders are under a lot of pressure, all while trying to overcome their blindspots.
People who are smart and self-assured are often very skillful at justifying their thinking and behavior—to the point of being in denial about their weaknesses and the threats they face. Their intelligence can work against them when they convince themselves, and often others, that they are right even when they are wrong.
Successful individuals who sometimes stumble often do so because they have no one who can protect them from themselves.
The best leaders develop a range of compensating mechanisms that fit their personalities and the company cultures in which they work. In many cases these leaders don’t fundamentally change the way they think, but instead develop warning systems that surface important weaknesses and threats.