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Leadership Realities and You

March 26, 2014

What if you had a mental map for what constitutes effective leadership?  You know, a way to verify if you are in the zone, when you care to check.  In fact you probably already have one, but it may not be that clear.  So in this blog I’d like to give you one, a map that is, so you’ve got something to go by.  But I’d like to give you something more.  A Tip and a Perspective Shift.  Either or both can turn your world on its head for the better.  Keep reading and I’ll explain.

First of all, let’s go over what your mental map is for effective leadership.  And by the way, this applies to anyone, not just for people who have VPs, and lower letters behind their name.

In the last blog, I went over my FOR2CE structure of map for effective leadership.  Let’s go over that in one paragraph, before switching to a review by McKinsey.

In short, the word FOR2CE frames the areas to work on to improve your impact, your effectiveness when leading others. The term represents 6 key leadership practices that not only help or hurt your effectiveness, but also grow or hurt your employee’s motivation.  Simply put, the letters stand for:
F stands for follow-through and doing what you say, the
O stands for being open to feedback, non-defensive, and a good listener, the
R squared or 2 R’s stands for resilience, so you learn to persevere and not give up, and being really good at recognition, the
C stands for competence and the
E for ethics.

In a recent book review in the McKinsey Quarterly, Marvin Bower, in his book The Will to Lead, suggests 14 qualities and attributes that comprise effective leadership.  They range from Trustworthiness to Sense of Urgency.

Personally I find long lists like this to be difficult to work with.  Do you?  I mean how do you retain, much less implement what looks like a checklist when it comes to leading, which is anything but a standard, check the list, activity?  I read through 15 items, then struggle to remember what was #4, knowing full well, that to retain and use it later this afternoon is going to be a low probability.  That being said, Marvin, adds some needed granularity to my FOR2CE model.  So I pulled it together in a image (see below), so that you could use it to formulate your own mental map on what you need to be doing to be an effective leader.



Everyone’s brain works different, but hopefully your brain sort of did a “sigh of relief” when you saw the image or map above, and said in effect, “Oh, I get it.”  You can grab relationships and concepts in a flash in an image, whereas struggle with memorizing a list.

But here’s something good about maps as well.  You immediately recognize larger themes that tie things together and outages.  Notice he didn’t say anything about being resilient or a master of recognition – not directly anyway?  And at least for me, it helps me think about competency in a more detailed manner, realizing that there are decision making competencies, people skill competencies and technical competencies that every leader needs to master and exhibit to be effective.

But beyond the map I want you to get something else he said that was very provocative, and could change your world.  It’s his challenge to rethink hierarchical leadership which we are all so familiar with.  Let me pull a quote.

The shortcomings of command-and-control management are becoming ever more apparent. The hierarchy of bosses organized into ranks, with each superior exercising authority over subordinates who do exactly what their boss wants, has long been the dominant form of corporate organization. But recognizing that they are handicapped by their current systems, many companies are now questioning the way they manage themselves. They are striving for greater effectiveness and flexibility to cope with and capitalize on the fast-moving, ever-changing competitive conditions they see just ahead.

I believe that the old command system must be replaced. Fixing it is not good enough. My view is that authority should be replaced by leadership. By that, I don’t mean that a business should be run by a single leader, but that it should be run by a network of leaders positioned right through the organization.”

Interesting thought or challenge, isn’t it?  By-the-way, it exactly fits with what I have observed when engaged in making rapid and large improvements in organizational performance and market outcomes.  Leadership seems to work best when shared.  It’s like a team, everyone needs to play their position, but you need leadership capacity at multiple positions, not a single leader with the rest followers.  Not every leader I have worked with can tolerate that.

Maybe we should add that as another competency.  The ability to attract, retain and make the best use of other leaders.

Take  a look at the company you work in.  How does it work there?  I bet you can see some direct correlations between what I’m writing about and whether good things happen or not, and whether or not good people stay around.

Before I wrap up.  One quick tip that I promised at the top of this blog.  Leadership effectiveness can get real cerebral, very quick, and I’m not sure that helps anyone be different.  So let me make one area really practical.  I find the concept of “Follow-through” consistently valuable to keep in focus.  And you can do it as well.  One of my most effective tips, is to prioritize and put into ManagePro at the beginning of the day what I need to follow-through on, including what I need to follow-up on.  Try it, and see if it doesn’t improve your game as well.

Bottom Line:

1. The concept of Leadership effectiveness as defined by FOR2CE provides a useful lens through which to evaluate Marvin Bower’s work in the Will to Lead.
2. Beyond the concepts he underscores, he introduces the pivotal idea that organizations need multiple, not a single, leader, and the sharing of leadership means rethinking the hierarchy we are so used to.
3. You can improve your leadership effectiveness everyday, by simply prioritizing and attending to your follow-through.  Believe me, every day you’ll have something to practice on. 🙂


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