Conflicts happen in all workplaces, are inevitable, generally dramatic, are stereotypically painful, are often the road to failure if you don’t know how to manage them.
However, contrary to common belief, they are most of the times milestones to success.
Conflicts are incompatibilities and interference between two different parties ideas, desires, goals, interests, values and principles, events and activities.
Conflict management or conflict competence is a learnable skill that should be developed by all leaders throughout their career. Conflicts are consequential, frequent and inevitable but are necessary. They occur whether an employee is expressing a dissenting view, resisting change, or whether the leader is correcting an existing problem, fighting complacency and group-thinking.
Leaders that poorly manage conflict are faced with unfortunate lawsuits, grievances, violence, employee absenteeism, employee defection, poor performance, ineffective decisions, deteriorated working relationships, distrust and other negative behaviors, attacks on reputation and careers, a toxic company culture.
As a result, poorly managed conflicts are costly for organizations that have to sometimes hire new employees, take time to train new members, bring in paid third-party to mediate disagreements.
However, the benefits of appropriate conflict management are endless. In order to approach conflict in a productive manner, it is necessary to understand that:
- differences in points of views generate innovative solutions and breakthroughs,
- dissenting thinking allow to make higher quality decisions,
- creativity is stimulated among the team,
- social relationships are subsequently improved,
- transparency and open communication are promoted,
- the work environment becomes more collaborative, and the company culture healthier,
- more opportunities surface,
- and most importantly, people within the organization might need help or mediation during conflict.
Addressing conflicts effectively
In the workplace, conflicts generally stems from differences of control, power and influence between the leader and his or her employees. Conflicts also come from discrepancies in culture, background, monetary.
There are several steps, that you can take to understand and manage conflicts constructively, you must:
- First understand yourself. What are your strengths, weaknesses, blindspots? How do you interact with different people with different backgrounds? How do you cause conflicts?
- Identify your conflict style. There are five different conflict styles, explaining the manner in which people attempt to meet their needs while showing interest in meeting other people needs during a conflict:
- The competitive conflict style is aggressive, seeks to win, gain control, disregards other people needs and generally heightens conflicts.
- The cooperative conflict style is defined by a need to reach a common goal using and consensus, to collaborate and to offer innovate ideas to resolve an issue. This style is representative of a healthy work culture.
- The compromising conflict style is defined by a unsatisfying willingness to meet the other party half way.
- The accommodating conflict style is obliging, facilitating, diplomatic, describes a desire to put others need and interests before a sole individualistic need in other to preserve relationships. This style is the complete opposite of the competitive style.
- The avoidant conflict style is composed of penned up feelings and of a need to sweep negative interactions and situations under the rug. Therefore, needs go unexpressed and the conflict festers.
- Identify your trigger. To appropriately assess your trigger, attend conflict management classes, get a mentor or a coach, take the Myers-Briggs Assessment Test or the Conflict Dynamics Profile.
- Develop an emergency plan to cool down and desensitize your triggers. Desensitizing your trigger doesn’t mean that a person’s behavior is right or pleasant, it just means understanding the demonstrated behavior and changing your reaction towards it. For example, take a break before responding or jumping to conclusion.
- Learn to control your emotional reaction to conflict. Understand, stay conscious of the strong emotions that come with conflicts then cultivate positive emotions to counteract the negative ones.
- Discipline your thoughts, perceptions and assumptions of other people. The interpretation of someone’s attitude does not necessarily match reality.
- Observe the time frame, the number of times you have to see someone at the office. The less time you spend with coworkers, the less time you will notice their flaws and the less you will harbor negative emotions.
- Learn to discern any conflict driven behavior on the scale of conflict intensity. The intensity level measures the level of discomfort during a dispute:
- At the first level, there is a difference in opinions but there are no discomfort.
- At the second level, misunderstandings sprout: what is understood by someone is different from what is really meant.
- At the third level, disagreements occur: each party understands but disagrees with each other’s opinions, feels discomfort which can lead to damage in the relationship.
- At the fourth level, discord transpires: each party respond to a difference in opinion and there are continual attacks on the relationship.
- At the last and fifth level, each party is polarized, suffers from the conflict, resort to sabotage, criticism, manipulation, etc…
Furthermore, detecting a conflict early will allow to resolve them faster.
How to resolve conflict and create positive outcomes
There are generally two known responses to conflict: “fight or flight” and “retaliatory cycle”.
On on hand, the fight or flight response is a natural response to threats where one either flee from danger or fight it. The choice between fight or flight depends on how someone has been conditioned.
On the other hand, the retaliatory cycle leads to escalation, leads to destructive behaviors that fuel and trigger negative behaviors in each party. In the retaliatory cycle, someone is first triggered by a behavior, then generates in that person an emotional response to this behavior. This emotional response is perceived by others as a threat to their ideas, opinions that in return generate an emotional response. And so on and so forth, the retaliatory cycle is created.
Leaders have to acquire a model behavior during conflicts in the workplace. Leaders encourage positive outcomes by:
- Facing conflicts head on, standing their ground and assuming that conflicts are inevitable, frequent and are just a passing phase.
- Staying calm and composed under pressure.
- Avoiding jumping to conclusions, shifting blame or pointing fingers and relying only on facts.
- Separating the person from the real issue.
- Instilling core values and fair treatment among their followers.
- Encouraging open communication and allowing the other party to speak their truth.
- Demonstrating that they have understood every side of the issue, being empathetic to the conflict partner.
- Suggesting solutions to existing problems thanks to external opinions, historical and innovative ideas.
- Sincerely apologizing to the other person and being able to admit when they were wrong.
How to recover from conflict?
Conflict competence requires that the leader:
- value differences,
- almost immediately detect a conflict before it arises in a tone or in a facial micro-gesture,
- identify positive and negative models of leadership within the organization,
- learn from setbacks and hardships that build character,
- solve other people conflicts and implement a conflict resolution culture.
Dealing with conflict can leave you feeling like you are in a hostile territory but practice makes perfect, and managing conflicts effectively becomes easy with experience.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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A leader without a vision is a leader without a head. A leader without a vision is a wandering leader. A leader without a vision is a rolling stone without a moss.
I have to say, to most, a vision is a dream. To leaders, a vision becomes a set of goals that they create for themselves and for their existing or fictional organization. To successful leaders, a vision is a dream that encompass their values and morals, that seems unrealistic but that is yet anchored in reality, that is ingrained in their DNA and adaptable to their environment.
Wondering why is it important to create a leadership vision and by what measure leaders sustain their vision?
A lot of people have a vision for their life. However, most of them do not pursue it or don’t acknowledge it because it seems unattainable or far-fetched, because they inspire others and not themselves, they are afraid, they are discouraged or they are too busy to look within to act upon their vision.
Nonetheless, people without vision are impotent to perform and remain bitter or frustrated. It is the vision that leads you and propels you forward, that wakes you up in the morning, that gives you purpose, that drive your performance, that is communicated to your employees, that gives meaning to your actions and decisions, and that leans on your belief systems.
Leaders should be pushing a vision for their life, for their family or their organization and it shouldn’t matter whether they have the right relationships, enough money, enough favors, or have hired people with the desired skill set.
The leadership vision has to be intrinsic, greater than the obvious, has to be overwhelming, powerful and so inspiring that it annoys everyone else. It becomes essential to protect that vision and not to let anyone intimidate that vision or impose their vision.
Leaders with a vision are ambitious and satisfied with their lives, become hopeful and optimistic about the future, invite change, select their employees according to their strengths and not their weaknesses, are daring and don’t fear failure, are emotionally invested in their goals, flexible, persistent, resistant to social pressure and are convinced of their future success.
How to create a leadership vision? How to build your vision from the ground up?
First of all, a leadership vision is sometimes born when you are afflicted or when the situation is unbearable.
Keep in mind, a leadership vision does not appear suddenly out of the blue. It takes time and a thorough self-assessment and a proper knowledge of your environment in order to express your vision. A vision is invisible but you have to believe in it, conceive it and hold on to it.
To create a leadership vision, it is therefore fundamental that:
- you get to know yourself by assessing your strengths and weaknesses.
- you define your core values by identifying the most important life events and your reactions to them.
- you set realistic yet demanding goals. Setting goals will allow you to lay out your ideas, to have a direction, to give you the desire to set wheels in motion, to grow and improve, set priorities and measure your progress. There doesn’t need to be a full detailed plan.
- you keep your goal descriptions clear, short and simple, personal, and focused on your character, core values and morals.
- your dreams challenge the status quo, seeks excellence, increase everyone’s purpose and motivation.
- you adapt, stretch or change your dreams through time. Revisiting your dream will allow you to renew your strategy, to navigate difficult situations with a flexible mind and to see beyond obstacles.
How to sustain your leadership vision?
Once you have your vision in place, in order to make it more effective and vivid:
- Revisit your vision from time to time to make sure that it is up to date.
- Write a vision statement for your business to establish lawful and moral guidelines for your employees and for yourself.
- Ground your vision into reality, demonstrate it within the company’s culture, values and directions, products and employees.
- Follow through on your promises and commitments. Invest yourself in insignificant task as much as in important tasks. There is nothing that is below you that should be done with quality and conviction.
- Acquire more character than workplace competencies.
- Remain optimistic throughout challenges in order to motivate your team.
- Regularly communicated your updated vision by crafting stories around your vision. Involve your employees to instill loyalty, commitment, motivation and alignment, to challenge them and to give them purpose. These leaders hire people, transfer their vision to them and bring out the best in them. Don’t force your vision on your team, instead invite them in the process and help them build it up.
- Avoid pleasing the naysayers.
- Encourage others to dream big.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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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.
Andrew Kakabadse is professor of governance and strategic leadership at Henley Business School, UK, and emeritus professor at Cranfield School of Management. Andrew Kakabadse is also the Author of The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value.
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.
In Developing the Leader Within You, John C. Maxwell gives advice on improving your leadership skills and a step-by-step guide of the leadership process.
It is a fact that leaders are not born but are made. It takes exposure to another person’s leadership model, training and self-disciplined.
What is Leadership?
Above all, “Leadership is influence”, according to John C. Maxwell in Developing the Leader Within You. Leadership is not defined by an ability to acquire position, rank and status.
Furthermore, leadership distinguishes itself from management. “Management is the process of assuring that the program and objectives of the organization are implemented. Leadership, on the other hand, has to do with casting vision and motivating people.”
Who is a leader?
The leader of any group is discovered when an important issue is to be decided, when everyone follows and listens to his or her opinion.
Everyone can be a leader, is currently leading, has led, is led or is being led. Contrary to popular belief, even an introvert can be a leader.
Everybody has influence to some extent and influence can be developed. To discover your level and your type of influence, John C. Maxwell has separated the leadership process into 5 “levels”.
What are the 5 levels of the leadership process?
The higher you go in the leadership process or the closer you reach to the final and fifth level of the leadership process, the longer it takes to pass a level, the higher the sacrifice and the level of commitment,the more people will want to follow you, the easier it is to lead, and the easier it is to implement change and encourage growth.
Each level is interdependent and is the basis for the higher one. First find out the level of influence that you have with your coworkers and then, solidify the basis of this level before moving on to the next one.
At this level, authority and influence are conferred by the job title, which is the “basic entry-level of leadership”. This level is the common understanding of what leadership is.
Aspects and conditions of Position Leadership:
- The job title has to be appointed to you by someone higher in authority, thanks to your technical training, and your ability to maintain procedures and protocol.
- The position provides security but does not automatically create followers. People will execute your orders but will not go beyond your stated authority.
- Millennials don’t respect figures of authority because they are no longer impressed.
- Position leaders can only control people through monetary leverage.
- White collars resent position leaders who abuse authority and attempt to intimidate.
- Start by respecting procedures and protocols, by performing well, by providing results and by being consistent with it.
- Make sure you fit the corporate culture and share your company values.
- Come up with innovative ideas.
This leadership level is based on interrelationship skills. People will work for you, not because they have to but because they want to.
Aspect and conditions of Permission Leadership:
- Building solid relationships with people allows you to build sustainable leadership.
- Develop your interrelationship skills.
- Invest in people and in “win-win” situations.
- Include people in your group.
This is a period of positive growth in leadership. Your productivity is therefore enhanced, even though you are not yet qualified for the job.
- Develop a “statement for purpose”, a “responsibility for growth”, an “accountability for results”, an understanding for timing and an appreciation for change.
Level of leadership where you are able to empower others and instill loyalty into them.
- “be a model to follow”.
- Invest time and mentorship in the top 20% of your followers. Identify other influencers that are your subordinates to unify the team around you and to build “collective influence”.
- Make an effort to stay in touch with everyone even the new comers to the company.
Fifth and final level where you entirely benefit from your leadership position.
Aspect and conditions of Personhood Leadership:
- An emphasis is placed on growing others and watching them grow.
- You are surrounded by loyal and sacrificial followers.
So what are the keys to leadership success at each level?
Leadership success is obtained by understanding the 20/80 percent principle or Pareto principle to projects, to your job, to the people around you, by prioritizing and by working toward a stated goal.
To do so, on one hand, identify the high importance and the high urgency projects in order to tackle them first. On the other hand, determine your respective responsibilities from what can be delegated to someone else, what tasks give you the greatest returns and which activities give you the most satisfaction on your job.
Finally, analyze the significance of goals before starting projects.
The character to leadership success
In Developing the Leader Within You, John C. Maxwell considers 8 components of character that contribute to leadership success.
Integrity is the most important component of leadership. Why? Because it instills trust, helps you gain credibility, grow your influence, build a solid reputation, increase your accountability and your sense of responsibility, resolve internal conflicts and foster a spirit of contentment within you. You do what you say you are consistently and are able to lead by example.
Keep in mind that “integrity is not a given factor in everyone’s life. It is a result of self-discipline, inner trust, and a decision to being relentlessly honest in all situations in our lives”.
In order to keep leading, keep changing yourself and your organization, keep renovating and innovating, encouraging growth. The leader has to become comfortable with change and has to acquire the right attitude and understand the demands for such change.
On the job, people all have problems and will tend to underperform. Unfortunately, you cannot eliminate problems and responsibilities from your life but you can overcome and work through them by changing your attitude and reactions towards them.
Leaders do not hold on to problems nor make excuses for their failures but instead transform their “stumbling blocks into stepping-stones”. In fact, they live by the following motto:
“If I can’t do something about a problem, it’s not my problem, it’s a fact of life”.
Also, a leader is able to recognize a problem ahead, is constantly looking for indications of problems before they occur, and is able to best solve them by teaching people how to solve their own problems, by listing all the causes and solutions of the problem, by directly attacking the symptoms of the problem and not the cause,
The right attitude
The right attitude must be developed for leadership to give the right model to your followers.
A love for people
Invest in people by:
- developing people skills on your own,
- teaching people around you how to be a leader,
- motivating and encouraging others,
- making the right assumptions about people,
- becoming familiar with the right questions to ask people,
- being comfortable enough to confront or clarify an issue with someone,
- becoming an active listener,
- giving the right assistance to people,
- allowing team member to utilize their greatest strengths instead of their talents.
An ability to have and share a vision
Leaders must have a vision, “a clear picture of what the leader sees his or her group being or doing” in order to find strength from inner convictions, to provide stamina and to continue their journey when setbacks occur.
The vision needs to be supported by the leader and has to be fed by the leader’s credibility, energy, by the commitment and ownership of the leader and followers, and by the timing of its presentation.
An inclination for personal growth and self-discipline
A leader without self-discipline is his or her worst enemy and appears to be out of control. “This leads to uncertainty and insecurity among followers”.
You can start self-discipline by getting organized, by being responsible for yourself, your actions and your followers, accountable to your followers, by cultivating emotional intelligence, by developing sacrifice and by paying the price of sacrifice.
An enthusiasm for developing people
One of the role of leadership consists in growing people and developing the leader in them. To do so, create an environment for success, boost your team’s self-esteem, care for your team, understand their human needs and their motivations.
Developing the Leader Within You, by John C. Maxwell, is a self-help book to assess your leadership skills, to solidify and improve your level of influence in your organization. Developing the Leader Within You is filled with small tests, examples and anecdotes to help you relate to the useful message.
It is dedicated to those who are unafraid of change, are willing to continually improve themselves and are ambitious enough to keep moving up the corporate ladder.
Developing the Leader Within You is also ideal for beginners who are at an entry-level position. When you freshly graduate, you believe that leadership rhymes with title, rank, position and responsibilities, and that everyone had to do what you say. Regrettably, I discovered that this wasn’t the case and that I had to work hard building a relationship with my coworkers.
This book has first been published in 1993 but the content is very much contemporaneous and should be prompted to anyone who conceives false notions about leadership.
Leadership is not accessible to everyone even though everybody is trying to do it nowadays, starting with millennials: it takes self-discipline and sacrifice which not everyone is willing to do.
Lastly, I enjoyed that John C. Maxwell made it clear that leadership is a long process that cannot be rushed and that there are steps that cannot be skipped.
Leadership is influence.
Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted individual will influence ten thousand other people during his or her lifetime!
integrity is not given factor in everyone’s life. It is a result of self-discipline, inner trust, and a decision to be relentlessly honest in all situations in our lives.
If I can’t do something about a problem, it’s not my problem, it’s a fact of life.
A vision should be greater that the person who has it.
The growth and the development of people is the highest calling of leadership.
Marcus Buckingham is a researcher, motivational speaker and business consultant. Marcus Buckingham is also the Author of StandOut 2.0 assess your strengths, find your edge, win at work.