"Oh No, Not another Leadership Seminar!" is the punchline of a story I share when I speak at conferences or events.
The incident happened 20 years ago when I was on my way to conduct a 2-day leadership development program for an international client and I overheard two managers talking before it started.
As humbling as the experience was, it was also a wake-up call to make leadership education relevant and practical. Everyone you talk to will likely agree that effective leadership is essential but few will agree that they lack the skill.
Twenty years after that incident, I have coached hundreds of C-level leaders and facilitated countless leadership sessions. I am the author of two books on self-leadership as well as The New Leadership Playbook: Being Human Whilst Successfully Delivering Accelerated Results. My conclusion from this experience is:
"𝑳𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒑 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏"
Leadership is a one-to-one or one-to-many conversation that results in the right behaviors. Right behaviors are those that move the team or organization toward agreed objectives.
When giving a speech, or working with leaders, I invite my audience to consider where they are on a leadership speedometer. I use a speedometer as a metaphor because we have all had the experience of wanting to get somewhere fast but having to navigate conditions and control our vehicle on the way to getting there.
Our ability to lead depends on our framing. Frames are points of view, perspectives, beliefs, and mindsets that we acquire at birth and from our early upbringing. Frames are mental shortcuts but can impede our acceleration if we are unaware of them, or they prevent us from seeing alternative routes. When people are framed, they often play the victim, complain about perceived unfairness, and take little or no responsibility for their actions.
Being ‘framed’ comes with a personal and organizational cost. Some years ago I was coaching a senior lawyer in an international law firm. Human Resources had asked me to coach him because he had missed out on becoming an equity partner. The reason for his missing this profitable promotion was that he would refer to his associates as ‘Units of Production.' This lack of humanity cost him a very profitable promotion, and it was costing his company in terms of a large turnover of highly skilled associates.
Frames can drive managers to engage in firefighting. This is a behavior where you go from crisis to crisis, constantly inserting yourself in tactical decision-making. This is mentally and physically exhausting and has a cost to health and the organization loses a competitive advantage by being strategic.
I was working with the head of the Project Management Office of a very large restaurant chain in the USA. With over 3000 outlets there were lots of issues (fires) to solve, and this was costing a dedicated leader his executive presence and influence capital. I taught him, that to accelerate, he needed to practice self-leadership, because:
“You can’t lead others unless you first lead yourself”.
In 2012 with my co-author Dr. Ana Kazan, we defined self-leadership as the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feeling, and actions toward your objectives.
This practice of being intentional allows us to change the causal chain of our framing and discover new options and opportunities.
Self-leadership starts with self-awareness; awareness about our own personality, intentions, and strengths. Self-leadership builds with self-regulation, taking ownership, and being the driver of our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. Self-leadership is reinforced with self-learning, the ability to try new things and take feedback, the ability to learn from any situation, and resilience.
Ownership is essential for accelerating results. Ownership requires clarity about what we are responsible for, and what we are accountable to. I expand on how to increase ownership in my latest work, The New Leadership Playbook: Being Human Whilst Driving Accelerated Results. This slide summarizes the distinctions.
These deltas are divided into four clusters, self-leadership, cognitive, interpersonal, and digital. How do you measure up?
I was working with the Chief People Officer of a disruptive Silicon Valley software company to develop the Executive Leadership Team. She asked me if I could write a playbook for her frontline and middle manager so that they could lead in accordance with the company culture.
To write his book I needed to articulate a leadership framework, that was practical, not theoretical. It is clear expectations multiply mindset & motivation which multiplies the right behaviors, resulting in accelerated results.
“Leadership is a conversation that leads to right behaviors”
The leadership framework informs 12 plays or conversations that managers and leaders must have with their employees, for accelerated results.
Having a model and examples for each conversation allows managers to be human and deliver accelerated results.
One book, one speech, or one coaching session won’t turn you or anyone else into an effective leader. Leadership is a process, and leadership is a function of the leader's style, the followers' motivation and skill, and the environment. Therefore, leadership development requires self-awareness about default styles, effectively adapting to the environment, and assessing the motivation and skills of your team.
If you would like to have a conversation about how I have achieved this with my executive coaching or corporate clients, then message me and I will be happy to share.
BEING HUMAN WHILST DELIVERING ACCELERATED RESULTS