Part 2: What Will My 12 Leadership Ratios Be?

by admin on August 23, 2011

Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived. ~Abraham Lincoln

As you decide how to best balance the twelve pairs of contrasting leadership emphases appearing over four weeks, consider the words of our sixteenth President. Ask yourself, “How do my feelings about force inform the ratio I bias toward for each pair?”

Previously we covered 1-3. The rest are to come.

1. Internal vs. External

2. Control vs. Trust

3. Process vs. Product

4. Strong vs. Facilitative. In acting as a strong leader you remain starkly visible with your hand in many tactical pots. You are active and authoritative. You declare strong opinions. In staff meetings it’s not unusual for you to consume 80% of the airtime. You believe your primary leadership contribution happens with you in a directive mode. By contrast if you lean toward facilitative leadership you adopt a role aimed at getting the best and the most from the people around you. You slip into the background when you sense that others will be encouraged by that behavior to come to the fore. You withhold opinions that might intimidate reports from stating theirs. Your team typically dominates with great energy the discussion at meetings.

“Deep” Insight: I work both with some leaders who are too strong and other who are overly facilitative. The ones who prove to be too strong for their leadership milieu have talented direct reports dying on the vine because their ideas have nowhere to go. The ones who are excessively consultative waste time getting agreement on decisions for which they need to step to the plate and assume responsibility.

5. Failure Focus (FF) vs Success Spotlight (SS). Every leader worth his or her salt has both of these leanings. The FF in you activates when you’re feeling pessimistic, hoping things don’t get worse. Your FF grows in bad economic times and chaotic emotional times. You can’t take much more bad news. You’re determined not to let things get worse, and to remove as much pain from your job as you can. By contrast, SS is your possibility thinking character. It grows when you’re bent on achieving an exciting and ambitious vision. You get excited about the prospects for growth, advancement, and profit. You can’t wait to achieve the unrealized potential you see all around you.

“Deep Insight: As times change, you’ll need to adjust your ratio more in the direction of either FF or SS. Which will be the easier shift for you to make? The most inspirational leaders I’ve known have floodwaters of SS flowing through their DNA, but are wise and flexible enough to take on increased, and perhaps even overwhelming, FF when that’s the thing to do.

6. Stars vs Team. Chuck Noll was the highly successful head coach of the 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers. When asked in those years about his philosophy of making picks in the NFL draft he said, “We draft the best available athlete.” On the heels of winning their sixth Super Bowl in 2009, Steelers General Manager Art Rooney, II intimated a revised recruiting philosophy when he said, “We draft for character.” Had the approach to draft selection really changed that much in 40 years? Not necessarily, but the contrast between the two statements may cause you to think about your own hiring practices. How much do you hire for raw talent? (“The best available engineer”) And how much do you hire for teamwork? (“An engineer who’ll play together with the other engineers”)

“Deep” Insight: One of the top contemporary laments of senior executives about their staffs is a lack of teamwork, an absence of internal customer service, or silo behavior. Yet when these same leaders are asked to describe the recruitment and selection techniques they use to on-board team players, they have little to report. A few of my favorite ways to discern more collaborate candidates are these: (1) Do they refer to their current/recent employer as we or they? (2) Can they be easily led to criticize their current/recent employer? (3) How do they score on the teamwork scales of personality-based pre-employment testing? (4) How would they rank order the relative importance of these core values—excellence, relentlessness, respect, leadership, integrity, innovation, customer focus—and how do they explain their rankings?

Next Week

7. Critical vs. Supportive

8. Leading vs. Doing

9. Achievable vs. Improbable

Two Weeks from Now

10. Results vs. Visionary

11. Competence vs. Compliance

12. Permission vs. Forgiveness

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