Character – The Second C of Leadership

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” ~ John Wooden

[As was discussed in a previous blog post, here at Inta-Great, we define leadership as “a service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences others toward a common vision.”  In order to be effective at influencing others in the pursuit of that vision, we propose that leaders follow the Inta-Greated Leadership Model which consists of the “Seven Cs of Leadership:” (1) Composition; (2) Character; (3) Catalyst; (4) Compassion; (5) Communication; (6) Courage; and (7) Celebration.  Embodying the Seven Cs is what allows leaders to have an impact at the personal, team, and organizational levels and ultimately results in real transformation and sustainable results.  In this post, we will further explore the second of our Seven Cs – Character.]

Throughout the leadership literature, there is an emphasis on the leader serving as a role model for followers.   A leader cannot be viewed as a role model; however, if they do not possess character.  Character refers to the integrity of the leader.  It means others view them as credible and possessing moral authority. 

Kouzes and Posner (2006) refer to this principle as “Model the Way” and describe it as leaders being “clear about their personal values and beliefs” (p. 3).  They go on to encourage leaders to “keep people and projects on course by behaving consistently with these values and setting an example for how they expect others to act” (p.3).  Being clear about one’s own values and setting an example for how others should act paves the way for leaders to be champions for the organization’s values.

Not only is a leader responsible for developing his or her own character, he or she is also responsible for helping to develop the character of his or her team and organization.  According to Johnson (2012), “Leaders are the ethics officers of their organizations, casting light or shadow in large part through the example they set” (p. 318).  Essentially, leaders need to serve as ethical role models to their followers, and they need to be champions of the ethical decision-making process.  This means leaders must internalize the ethical climate they promote by embodying the organization’s values and then hold others accountable to those values.  Doing so requires rewarding those who act ethically and punishing those who do not—regardless of the results from that employee’s behavior.  Leaders must walk the ethical talk.

The idea of leaders serving as role models is also especially prominent in the transformational leadership theory as it closely aligns with the “idealized influence” aspect of transformational leadership.  Idealized influence refers to transformational leaders’ ability to live by standards and values that allow followers to view them as role models.  “They [transformational leaders] are deeply respected by followers who usually place a great deal of trust in them” (Powell, 2011, p. 177).

Finally, the leader’s character is important because it affects how well others respond to the leader’s attempts to cast a vision and instigate change.  For example, renowned change expert, John Kotter (1995), states that in order to facilitate change, leaders must embody the change and serve as role models for the rest of the organization.  “Communication comes in both words and deeds, and the latter are often the most powerful form” (p. 6).  He then goes on to emphasize the importance of leaders communicating the change vision “in deed” because, “nothing undermines change more than behavior by important individuals that is inconsistent with their words” (p. 6).  Similarly, Roger Gill (2003) also emphasizes the importance of leaders serving as role models when facilitating change.  Gill writes, “In any change process, the change champions – leaders – must be credible,” and he then goes on to define credibility as being perceived by others as honest and competent (p. 316).

It is this link between character and change that sets the stage for the next or third C, Catalyst.

References:

  • Gill R., (2003). Change management or change leadership. Journal of Change Management 3(4), 307-318.
  • Johnson, C.E. (2012). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Kotter, J.P. (1995). Leading change: Why transformational efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 1-9.
  • Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2003). Student leadership practices inventory.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Powell, G. N. (2011).  The gender and leadership wars.  Organizational Dynamics, 40, 1-9.

Composition: The First C of Leadership

As we introduced in a previous blog post, here at Inta-Great, we define leadership as “a service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences others toward a common vision.”  And second, to be effective in influencing others in the pursuit of that vision, we propose that leaders follow the Inta-Greated Leadership Model which consists of the “Seven Cs of Leadership:” (1) Composition; (2) Character; (3) Catalyst; (4) Compassion; (5) Communication; (6) Courage; and (7) Celebration.  Embodying these Seven Cs is what allows leaders to have an impact at the personal, team, and organizational levels and ultimately results in real transformation and sustainable results.

The Inta-Greated Leadership Model

In this post, we will further explore the first of our Seven Cs – Composition. 

To begin with, transforming culture requires transforming organizations and institutions, and transforming organizations and institutions requires transforming individuals.  Therefore, culture cannot be transformed without individuals being transformed.  That is why leadership must begin with composition.  Composition requires that the leader understand the unique personalities, strengths, and motivators of themselves and others.  As Drucker (1999, p. 11) writes, “The need to manage oneself is therefore creating a revolution in human affairs.”  Essentially, one must effectively lead oneself before attempting to lead others.

In addition to Drucker (1999), Charles Manz also (2001) emphasizes that leaders must first lead themselves before they lead others.  “We are challenged first to examine ourselves and get our own act together before we try to lead others” (p. 12).  As leaders, we have to understand our personality style, strengths, motivators, learning styles, and weaknesses because this forms the foundation of our growth and development.  Knowing oneself and identifying one’s strengths and weaknesses helps leaders become more effective – not only personally but at the team level as well.

Once one has taken the time to understand oneself – personality traits, learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses – one also has the responsibility to understand that others are just as unique.  Then, instead of rejecting those differences, one is able to see them as complements.  It allows one to create and lead a team where others’ strengths balance one’s own weaknesses.  Or, in the words of strengths-expert Marcus Buckingham (2008), “There are no well-rounded leaders – only well-rounded leadership teams.”  And finally, at the organizational level, this awareness allows leaders to better match individuals to roles/jobs that play to their strengths.

In regard to transformational and servant leadership theory, composition closely aligns with the “awareness” and “building community” characteristics of servant-leadership.  According to Spears (2002), leaders build community, by caring for others and bringing them together.  Spears also notes that this ability stems from the leader’s level of awareness.  Being aware involves having a deep understanding of oneself and others which “strengthens the servant-leader” by allowing him or her to build better teams.  Finally, awareness also “aids one in understanding issues that involve ethics and values” which leads us to our second C, Character (p. 6).

References:

  • Buckingham, M. (2008). The truth about you: Your secret to success. [Video]. (Available from Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN).
  • Drucker, P. (1999). Managing oneself. Harvard Business Review, 77(2), 64-74.
  • Manz, C. (2001). The leadership wisdom of Jesus. San Francisco: Brett-Koehler.
  • Spears, L. C. (2002). Tracing the past, present, and future of servant-leadership. In L. C. Spears, & M. Lawrence. (Eds.), Focus on leadership: Servant-leadership for the 21st century. (pp. 1-16). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The Inta-Greated Leadership Model

Leadership is often discussed but rarely understood.  A complicated discipline – it represents a mix of psychology, sociology, anthropology, communications, business, and political science theory – it is not easy nor for the faint hearted.  Instead, leadership is a calling that requires dedication, perseverance, and humility.  For those who persevere, however, leadership is greatly rewarding as leaders play a key role in creating, changing, and cultivating culture.  But first, being an effective leader requires that an individual understand what leadership really is.

To many, leadership equates to management.  And yet this is not the case.  Management is focused on tasks and details and comes from a place of positional authority.  In contrast, leadership is focused on vision and serving others from a relationship built on influence.  Anyone with a title can demand a certain level of compliance from their subordinates; however, a true leader is one who not only inspires compliance but greatness.  I grew up playing sports, and in that context we used to call it “giving 110%” or “running through walls.”  At worst, management will result in people giving up when faced with a wall; at best, those people might figure out a way around the wall.  Leadership alone is what inspires and enables people to run through walls.

The question becomes then, “How do I enable and inspire others to run through walls?”  The simple answer of “being a leader” is not enough.  What does it mean to be a leader?  After studying many different leadership theories and perspectives, here at Inta-Great, we have come to believe there is a fundamental difference between providing a definition of leadership and providing a model of leadership.  While a definition is simply about explaining a phenomenon, models are about what specific behaviors, actions, and character traits are effective or ineffective.  Definitions describe; models prescribe. With that in mind, we’ve developed the following definition and model of leadership.

At Inta-Great, we define leadership as “a service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences others toward a common vision.”

And, in order to be effective at influencing others in the pursuit of that vision, we propose that leaders follow the Inta-Greated Leadership Model consisting of the “Seven Cs of Leadership:” (1) Composition; understanding the unique personalities, strengths, and motivators of themselves and the team; (2) Character; cultivating credibility and moral authority; (3) Catalyst; inspiring and aligning action toward a common vision; (4) Compassion; coaching and empowering people to do the best they can; (5) Communication; persuading, presenting, listening, and negotiating; (6) Courage; seizing opportunities despite the inherent risk and uncertainties; and (7) Celebration; showing gratitude and celebrating success.

We believe that embodying the Seven Cs is what allows leaders to have an impact at the personal, team, and organizational levels ultimately resulting in real personal and cultural transformation and sustainable results.  Please see a visual representation of the Inta-Greated Leadership Model as Figure 1.1 below.

The Inta-Greated Model of Leadership

Free from fads, fluff, and feel-good teaching, the Inta-Greated Leadership Model is based on proven leadership principles.  To illustrate this, we will be publishing a series of blog posts in the near future that will discuss how each of the Seven Cs connect to the leadership literature.  We hope that you join us as we explore the research and evidence supporting each of the Seven Cs and the impact they are capable of having at the personal, team, and organizational levels.  And, as always, we wish you the best of luck as you continue on your leadership journey.

The Three Cs of Decision Making

“…but above all else leaders are made or broken by the quality of their decisions” (Garvin & Roberto, 2001, p.2).  Leaders are faced with many decisions on a daily basis.  Some are made in an individual context, – Should I go to this lunch meeting? Or, how should I respond to this email? – and some are made in a team context – Should we invest in developing this new product?  Should we expand into this new market?  Should we merge with this organization?  However, regardless of the size or context of the decision, what remains the same is that leaders will be judged on the quality and outcomes of their decisions.

Because of this, it is important for leaders to study how to make quality decisions, especially decisions where a group or team is involved.  So, when you are faced with such a situation, remember to implement the “three Cs” of decision making: (1) conflict, (2) consideration, and (3) closure.

Conflict refers to the importance of cultivating conflict by encouraging people to speak their minds even if it means challenging the leader’s opinion or the group’s consensus (Garvin & Roberto, 2001).  There is a difference between negative conflict and constructive conflict.  Negative conflict attacks individuals whereas constructive conflict questions ideas and assumptions.  When a group of people are able to focus on the ideas on the table and not the individuals who presented the ideas, it is possible to identify opportunities and threats that may not have been evident before.  And, creating space for people to speak their mind, even when it contradicts with popular opinion, or your opinion, is also the first step to practicing consideration.

As a leader, the second step to practicing consideration is to make sure people feel as though you have listened to and considered their point of view – even if it is not the solution you ultimately choose.  Research has shown again and again that participants feel validated and more willing to support the outcome of the decision-making process when they feel as though they were given a legitimate opportunity to express their opinion on the matter.  You can give them this opportunity by asking questions, probing for deeper explanations, and making eye contact when others present their positions.

While the discussion generated through conflict and consideration is valuable, at some point, the discussion must come to an end.  For that reason, it is important for you to make a final decision and communicate it to the group, thus indicating closure. When communicating this final decision, you should outline a few reasons why you chose this course of action.  This will not only reinforce the participants’ experience of consideration, it will also cut down on office gossip as it prevents people from guessing your motives.

When taken together, the “three Cs” are meant to facilitate the generation of multiple ideas and alternatives and produce a well-thought-out solution.  The goal of using the three Cs is not to persuade the group to adopt your point of view, but rather, on identifying the best course of action (Garvin & Roberto, 2001).  To this end, the use of the three Cs encourages critical thinking and the challenging of one another’s ideas, but not the attack of one another.  “The implicit assumption is that a consummate solution will emerge from a test of strength among competing ideas rather than dueling positions” (p. 3).

Overall, while embracing this process is a good first step toward making quality decisions, you must also be on guard against practices which threaten to derail the decision-making process.  Such practices are otherwise known as heuristics, and we will discuss them more in a future post.  In the meantime, when working with your leadership teams, remember to focus on the three Cs of decision making: conflict, consideration, and closure. 

Referenced Works:

  • Garvin, D.A. & Roberto, M.A. (2001). What you don’t know about making decisions. Harvard Business Review, 79(8), 108-116.

Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve

Level 5 Hierarchy

What catapults a company from merely good to truly great?  A five-year research project searched for the answer to that question, and its discoveries ought to change the way we think about leadership.  The most powerfully transformative executives possess a paradoxical mixture of personal humility and professional will.  They are timid and ferocious.  Shy and fearless.  They are rare – and unstoppable.” ~Jim Collins

If you have never read Jim Collins’ landmark book, Good to Great, make sure you read his classic article from the Harvard Business Review, “Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.”  

Sales Tip #2: When More People are Added to the Equation

Sales Tip #2: If a potential client asks for another meeting with the specific purpose of bringing more people into the discussion, you should assume those people are influential.

Sometimes when selling to someone, that person will request a follow-up meeting for the purpose of involving more people in the decision-making process.  More often than not, a decision-maker is not going to bring more people into the discussion for the heck of it.  Instead, this person realizes that wise decision-makers know to surround themselves with wise advisers.  As a seller, it’s important to learn what perspective each adviser has to offer, and what role they will make in the decision-making process. 

It doesn’t have to be hard.  Begin with the same process you used for the initial meeting.  Get the names of the people who will be joining you at the next meeting and do some research about them online.  Then, start the next meeting with our go-to question from Sales Tip #1, “Hi [colleague’s name], it’s nice to meet you.  Can you tell me a little about yourself and your role at [company’s name]?”  Then, follow that question up with another question directed at the original buyer, “Hi [buyer], nice to see you again.  I understand you wanted [colleague’s name] to join us this time.  What perspective are you hoping she/he brings to the table?”

These questions will help you discover what areas you should focus your discussion on.  Did the buyer bring financial experts to the meeting?  Product experts?  Social media experts?  Whatever their areas of expertise, your buyer probably has questions about your proposed solution in those areas and wants the new participants’ opinions on the matter. 

Finally, in addition to helping you know what areas to focus the discussion on; these questions will also help with relationship building.  They will help you begin to build relationships with the new participants in the decision-making process, and they will strengthen your relationship with the original buyer.  Remember, it was his or her choice to bring these people into the decision-making process, so respecting them communicates that you respect the buyer’s judgment – and respect is one of the cornerstones of a strong relationship. 

Sales Tip #1: Know Who You Are Selling To – Obvious but Essential

Sales Tip #1: Know who you are selling to.

While this tip may seem incredibly obvious, it is also incredibly important.  Have you ever found yourself on the receiving end of a sales call where it was painfully obvious that the seller knew nothing about you or your company?  How does that leave you feeling?  Annoyed?  Frustrated?  Like the meeting was a waste of time?

As a seller, it’s easy to get so caught up in trying to highlight the benefits of your solution and the credibility of your brand that you forget to focus on the buyer.  Yes, your solution and credibility are important, but it’s more important to develop a relationship with your buyer.  Doing so is easier than you may think.

Take the time to learn about the people you are meeting with.  Ideally, this involves doing research ahead of time: checking out the buyer’s organization and personal bio online (if their bio is not on their company website, check out LinkedIN).  If that’s not possible, then start your meeting with a simple, “Hi [buyer’s name], it’s nice to meet you.  Can you tell me a little about yourself and your role at [company’s name].”  In fact, I suggest starting all your meetings like this because you never know when an online bio is outdated or what else you might learn about someone just by asking.

Once again, this may seem obvious, but it’s important.  Why?  Because sales, especially in the service industry, is becoming more about establishing a working relationship with someone than it is finding a “quick fix.”  Even in the product industry, most people will tell you that they would rather buy from someone they have a relationship with rather than someone they barely know.

In the end, that is what sales is all about—building a relationship.  And you can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t know.

Super Bowl Wisdom

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In honor of this weekend’s Super Bowl, we thought it fitting to put together our Top 6 Words of Wisdom from football legend, Vince Lombardi:  

  1. “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.”
  2. “Football is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness and respect for authority is the price that each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
  3. “The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince.”
  4. “Winning is not everything – but making the effort to win is.”
  5.  “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
  6. “They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them…you show them the reasons.”

And because we couldn’t just keep it to 6, here’s one more for the extra point:

  • “After all the cheers have died down and the stadium is empty, after the headlines have been written, and after you are back in the quiet of your room and the championship ring has been placed on the dresser and after all the pomp and fanfare have faded, the enduring thing that is left is the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.” 

12 Time Management Habits to Master in 2013

An interesting read about Benjamin Franklin’s method for changing habits and encouraging character growth.

2013–A New Year & A New Start

2013– a new year and the perfect time for a new start.  

This concept is nothing new.  For as long as most of us can remember, people have been using this time of year to set their “New Year’s Resolutions.”  However, for most people, those resolutions are broken as quickly as they are made.  Anyone with a gym membership will tell you gym traffic typically doubles during the month of January before slowing down to its usual flow around mid-February.  So why are we so bad at following through with our New Year Resolutions?

Most of our resolutions tend be made in the moment with lots of emotion but with little consideration and little planning.  For example, we look into the mirror on January 1st, see the results of our holiday merry-making, and adamantly declare–“I NEED to lose weight!  I will start working out!”  This example highlights another problem with many new year’s resolutions–they tend to be reactive and not proactive.

The many problems begin shortly after we join the gym.  We don’t actually know what exercises we should be doing–are we just trying to lose weight or build muscle?  Or maybe we should be trying to tone muscle.  Then, real life hits, and suddenly it is hard to fit going to the gym into our busy schedules.  And finally, we haven’t actually made any changes to our eating habits, so even though we are going to the gym a bit more often, we’re not seeing the results we want–and before you know it those problems add up and we stop going to the gym altogether.  Have you ever experienced anything like this in your own personal or work life, and what can we do about it???

Most resolutions fail because they are not linked to a broader vision.  Instead of standing alone, personal and organizational goals should support our personal or organizational vision.  Therefore, identifying the vision becomes the first step.  We’ve already discussed the “Key Aspects of a Great Vision” before, so we won’t go into all the details about it here.  But, we will remind you that quite simply, vision paints a picture of the future state you/your organization wants to achieve.  It defines what success looks like.  If we go back to the weight loss example, a strong vision statement would be, “Living a healthy lifestyle that includes a regular work-out program and a nutritional diet.”

But sometimes, having a big vision can seem overwhelming to a leader.  We have these big dreams—how are we ever going to achieve them?

The answer is simple; we need a plan.  The key lies in translating the vision into multiple, smaller goals.  When we do this, it is very important to write these goals (or resolutions) down.  Writing them down creates personal accountability, because now, we have a list that we can go back to and measure ourselves against.  However, don’t just take my word for it…

According to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech (as quoted in Five):

  • 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals.
  • 16% of Americans have goals, but they don’t write them down.
  • < 4% of Americans actually write their goals down.
  • < 1 % of Americans write down their goals on an ongoing basis.
  • People who regularly write down their goals earn 9x as much over their lifetimes than those who don’t.

So, don’t wait.  Make this the year you get serious about your resolutions.  Take the time and identify your vision and break it down into smaller goals to achieve that vision.  Then, write those goals down.  You’ll be amazed at the difference consideration and planning can make.

Referenced Works:

  • Zadra, Dan. (2009). Five: Where will you be five years from today?. Seattle: Compendium, Inc.