Ken Haigh leadership, productivity, and technology | about

The Leadership Equation: Final Thoughts

We have now looked at Truthfulness, Integrity, Faithfulness, Humility, Servanthood, Charity, Justice, Wisdom, Understanding, Learning, Self-Control, Excellence, Worthy Vision, Motivation, and Counsel. All of these characteristics help leaders influence others.

    \[ l_i = \left ( i_1 + t + f + h + \frac{s_1}{s_2} + c_1 + j\right )\left ( w_1 + u + l + \frac{s_3}{a} + e \right )\left ( w_2 + \frac{m_1}{m_2} + c_2  \right ) \]

where l_i = leadership/influence

When considering these characteristics, my tendency is to compare myself and other leaders against the high bar that has been set through the course of the series. My conclusion is that I often fall short of this bar and I am hard pressed to find any person who could clear the bar. As a result, I am ready to move onto a different topic – too intense, too much reflection.

However, I do have a few final thoughts:

  1. All leaders face failure. Sometimes the failure is beyond their control but usually failure is a direct result of a leader’s action and weakness in character. When dealing with failure, good leaders always respond appropriately. Jim Collins, in Good to Great, observes that the best leaders (the “level 5″ leaders) look in the mirror at such times and take responsibility; they don’t blame others. We see repeatedly that history is kinder to those leaders who accept responsibility for their actions than those who don’t.
  2. Leaders are made, not born. Our greatest opportunity for growth is through our failure. You should never stop learning and continuing to grow as a leader. In addition, remember leadership does not come from your status, title, position, or upbringing. It is about influence. That influence comes from building respect with others over time.
  3. The three legged stool. In spite of character weakness, good leaders are still able to have a measure of influence over others. To some degree, a leader must possess some amount of trustworthiness, competency, and vision in order to be effective as a leader. Without trust, people will turn on you if the vision changes. Without competency, people will become frustrated with you and leave. Without vision, people will unlikely follow you in the first place.

In the next series, I plan to switch gears and focus on productivity and getting stuff done. Thanks for sticking with me through the leadership equation.

In Leadership (competency, failure, leaders are made not born, Leadership, trust, vision)

The Leadership Equation: Counsel

We have reached our final leadership characteristic. Good leaders not only give good advice and counsel to others, but listen to counsel as well.

    \[ l_i = \left ( i_1 + t + f + h + \frac{s_1}{s_2} + c_1 + j\right )\left ( w_1 + u + l + \frac{s_3}{a} + e \right )\left ( w_2 + \frac{m_1}{m_2} + c_2  \right ) \]

where l_i = leadership/influence and c_2 = counsel

Vision is rarely developed in a vacuum. As Proverbs 15:22 states,

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

The Lone Leader?

Most narratives of successful leaders give the impression that one person’s idea led and inspired a group of people to achieve extraordinary goals. Based on my experience, I am skeptical of such narratives and recognize that in every story a footnote exists of advisers that help influence and shape a leader’s direction.

As leaders, we are all capable of making errors in discerning the correct path. To depend on one’s own judgment is foolishness. Good leaders surround themselves with wise counselors. After all, how can one lead when there is no one else around to participate in the journey?

Not All Counsel is Good Counsel

Unfortunately, not all counsel is equal. Many times I have received conflicting and wrong advice on a matter. In some cases, my advisor did not have all the facts to properly assess a situation (my fault.) In other instances, my advisor was motivated by self-interest and gain.

It is important to remember to seek out counsel from those who are in the best position to help. You would not ask your car mechanic to provide health advice when you are sick. Seek advice from those with expertise, experience, and good character.

Measure Against Truth

How can you recognize good counsel? Always measure the counsel you receive against truth. Good counsel should never conflict with known truth and facts. In addition, seek out and validate counsel with other counsel.

Summary

We have finished discussing the characteristics that help a leader cast vision: Worthiness, motivation, and counsel. In all, we have looked at a total of 15 characteristics that help a leader maximize their influence of others through trust, competence, and vision. If you are like me, you fall short in a number of areas. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t effectively lead. In the next post of this series, we will conclude with how to know if you a leader or a pretender.

Your thoughts next: Now that my list is complete, what characteristics would you add to the list?

In Leadership (counsel, Leadership, vision)

The Leadership Equation: Motivation

Previously, we discussed the importance of casting vision as a leader and what makes a leader’s vision worthy. In addition to worthiness, a vision should motivate and not manipulate others.

    \[ l_i = \left ( i_1 + t + f + h + \frac{s_1}{s_2} + c_1 + j\right )\left ( w_1 + u + l + \frac{s_3}{a} + e \right )\left ( w_2 + \frac{m_1}{m_2} + c_2  \right ) \]

where l_i = leadership/influence and m_1 = motivation

Good leaders recognize that true motivation occurs when a person is persuaded to take action towards a vision that is aligned with their personal interest and intrinsic motivation. Manipulation occurs when a person is persuaded to take action for the primary benefit of a leader and does not address a person’s intrinsic motivation.

So Can a Good Leader Effectively Lead All?

No, not really. Intrinsic motivation can be defined as self-motivation or motivation that comes from within. A vision, i.e., external motivation must be congruent with a person’s intrinsic motivation. A vision alone, no matter how worthy, will ultimately not resonate with a person unless it is aligned with one or more internal motivators.

In addition, people have different internal motivators. A vision will ultimately be compromised in order to broaden the appeal for all.

Getting the Right People Onboard

As a leader in any organization, finding the right people whose intrinsic motivation is aligned with the vision is critical for success. Some call this “fit.”

A leader, whether they intended or not, will ultimately be forced into manipulating those that do not “fit” in order to get things done. Manipulation never ends well for the leader or the follower. The impact of manipulation is scheming, forced compliance, a lack of response, win / lose scenarios, resentment, and discord.

This is why at PeopleMatter, alignment with the PeopleMatter vision is an important criteria in hiring.

What Motivates People?

I would be interested in hearing from you on what motivates you or others that you lead. I will start the list with one of my motivators: Challenge. I am motivated by the attainment of difficult and personally meaningful goals. Google Analytics tells me a larger number of people are following these posts so don’t be shy and leave a comment below.

In Leadership (Leadership, manipulation, motivation)

The Leadership Equation: Worthy Vision

Up to this point, we have discussed the leadership characteristics that enable trust and demonstrate competence. Now, we will focus on the characteristics of a good leader that help cast vision for others.

Much has been written about the importance of vision for a leader. When a leader casts vision, people share and follow a leader’s passions, hopes, dreams, and direction. Not all visions are created equal, however. Some visions have more worth than others.

    \[ l_i = \left ( i_1 + t + f + h + \frac{s_1}{s_2} + c_1 + j\right )\left ( w_1 + u + l + \frac{s_3}{a} + e \right )\left ( w_2 + \frac{m_1}{m_2} + c_2  \right ) \]

where l_i = leadership/influence and w_2 = worthy vision

So what makes a vision worthy? Merriam-Webster defines worthy as “having worth or value”. This definition is not exactly helpful. For many organizations and corporations, one could observe that a worthy vision is a vision that has economic or financial value for its stakeholders.

I reject this notion.

What Makes a Vision Worthy?

  • Authentic- Does the leader really believe in the vision? Or is there another hidden vision? Vision is not a statement on a wall or website. When a leader espouses one vision only to exhibit behavior contrary to that vision (enacted), a team will see through the facade and become disillusioned. Consistency is key.
  • Good- Worthy visions are moral and pure. Does the vision promote the welfare of others and make the world a better place? Visions that are selfish and/or neutral do not ultimately inspire others and keep people around.
  • Big- Worthy visions are greater than any one individual and make room for others to participate in that vision. A vision should be big enough to challenge others to think bigger than they previously have thought. Big visions require faith.
  • Long-term- If the end is in sight, then you are not looking far enough as a leader. Worthy visions inspire a journey filled with victory and defeat, good and bad, trial and growth.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on worthy visions. Please leave a comment below.

In Leadership (Leadership, vision, worthy)

The Leadership Equation: Excellence

In addition to wisdom and self-control, we will look at a third important characteristic of a competent leader: Excellence.

    \[ l_i = \left ( i_1 + t + f + h + \frac{s_1}{s_2} + c_1 + j\right )\left ( w_1 + u + l + \frac{s_3}{a} + e \right )\left ( w_2 + \frac{m_1}{m_2} + c_2  \right ) \]

where l_i = leadership/influence and e = excellence

Good leaders demonstrate and expect excellence in everything. Everything includes both who they are (inward character) and what they do (actions.) If a task is worth doing, then a good leader does the task right and with full effort.

The Practice of Excellence

Excellence is not a one-time event. Aristotle stated,

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Since excellence is a habit, no matter what the task, small or big, trivial or important, a good leader strives for excellence and sets an example for others to follow.

Impact of Excellence

Good leaders also expect excellence in others. Setting an expectation of excellence for all activities and roles in an organization will help train others through practice. Eventually, the habit of excellence will enable achievement that might not have seemed possible. Excellence is the basis for a high-performing team and for delivering a quality product and service.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Job, CEO of Apple Computer, Inc.

Excellence not Perfection

Excellence should not be confused with perfection. Excellence is a pursuit not a destination. As Edwin Bliss once said, “The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time.” Achieving perfection is an impossible task and unforgiving since it never makes allowances for error. Having unrealistic expectations in the pursuit of perfection will lead to discouragement and the condemnation of others. This condemnation decreases the morale on a team and ultimately leads to turnover in an organization.

Summary

We have looked at wisdom, understanding, learning, self-control, and excellence. All of these characteristics enable a person to competently lead others. In the next post, we will start the discussion of the characteristics that help a leader cast vision.

Question: What other characteristics of a competent leader would you add?

In Leadership (apple, excellence, Leadership, steve jobs)