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.

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.

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.”  

Courage, Failure, & Leadership

cour·age
noun \ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\
Definition of COURAGE
: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
–  Definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

When it comes to defining courage, the key phrase is: “and withstand.”  Courage is not about fearlessness.  It is about being afraid and moving forward anyway.  It is about pursuing a passion—a purpose—that is greater than one’s fear.

In his book, Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley identifies courage as one of the “five essentials for those who will shape the future.”  I’ve struggled with this emphasis on courage because courage seemed to be more of a personality trait than a skill.  And, requiring a leader to have a certain personality trait reminded me of the outdated “Great Man” leadership theories.  These theories essentially said that leaders are born, not made, and all great leaders share a certain set of personality traits.  Contrastingly, at Inta-Great, we subscribe to the transformational and serving leadership theories—theories that focus on skills and competencies leaders can learn and develop.

However, after moving along in my leadership journey, and watching others on theirs, I have come to realize that Andy Stanley is right.  Courage is essential to leadership.  But what I have also come to realize is that courage is less of a personality trait you are born with and more of an attitude that is cultivated.  [Look for another post about how to cultivate courage in the near future.]

So, why is courage so important to leadership?  As it was defined earlier, courage involves persevering in the face of “danger, fear, or difficulty.”  Danger, fear, and difficulty tend to result from ambiguity and uncertainness about the future.  And, if there is one area leaders specialize in, it is ambiguity and uncertainty.  At Inta-Great we define leadership as, “A service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences a group of individuals toward a common purpose.”  One of the key words in this definition is “change.”

Leaders influence change toward a common purpose.  Change is inherently difficult, and sometimes frightening.  It involves leaving the realm of “what is” for “what could be.”  Leaders are not content to relax, put their feet up, and pat themselves on the back.  Instead, they are leaning forward, looking toward the future, and thinking about how things could be even better—and yet, thinking about it is not enough.

How many people at your workplace have opinions about what should change in the organization?  Probably a lot.  Most people have ideas about how communication could be improved, what new products should be developed, what management should be doing, etc.  But, they are not doing anything about it.  Contrastingly, leaders at all levels are those who not only see the opportunities, but seize the opportunities—taking steps toward making change happen despite the inherent risk and uncertainty.  This requires courage.

Sometimes taking the risk pays off.  The leader is successful and achieves what he or she sets out to achieve.  And, in some ways this is what one is taught when studying leadership.  If you follow this approach—if you utilize these essentials of leadership, or these four factors of transformational leadership, etc.—you will be successful.  But sometimes this doesn’t happen.  Sometimes a leader will do everything right—cast a great vision for the future, empower those around him or her, etc.—and he or she will fail.  What happens then?

Recently, my mentor, a successful and engaging woman, set out on a new path.  She felt led to pursue what many called an impossible goal.  She knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but her vision of what could be and her passion to serve others gave her the courage to try anyway.  And try she did.  She gave 110%, made some great progress, inspired many along her way, but in the end, she failed.  She did not achieve her goal.

So once again, she, and other leaders who have failed or will fail, must tap into the power of courage.  This time, courage will be needed to pick oneself up, identify one’s next goal, and begin working toward it.  As Mary Anne Radmacher has said, “Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

While everyone needs time to “lick their wounds” so to speak, leaders refuse to let failure define them.  Instead, they use it to strengthen them.  Leaders know that failures are great learning opportunities.  They know that failure experiences are hard, but they help the leader cultivate wisdom for next time.  Sometimes failure is a necessary perquisite for success.  This is the risk the leader is willing to take.

Why is the leader willing to take such a risk?  As we’ve already discussed, the passion and purpose the leader is pursuing is a strong motivator.  But, there is something else.  The best leaders understand that failure, while it hurts in the moment, is a passing thing.  Regret is not.  The regret that comes from not trying—from missed opportunities—can last a lifetime.  So, even more than failure, leaders fear regret.  They understand the adage, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

So, while my mentor may not have achieved her goal, she can rest in knowing that tomorrow, or next month, or next year, or twenty years from now, she will never have to look back at her life and wonder “What if…”  “What if I would have taken that risk?”  “What if I would have left my comfort zone?”  Instead, she will know that she worked hard, made a lot of progress, inspired many individuals, and paved the way for those who will come after her.

And now, in some ways she has an even bigger opportunity than those who achieve their goals—for it is during times of trial and darkness that one’s true character really shines.  By refusing to let this experience define her, she will go on to impact even more.  I know for me, she remains a source of inspiration and a great lesson in courage and leadership.  Finally, it is my hope, that others will be inspired by her story to act courageously.  For as we have seen, courage is essential to leadership. 

-Written by Valerie Faust, Director of Blossom & Flourish and Training & Development Consultant

Motivation–It’s NOT all about the Money

Motivation has become a buzzword in the business community.  It is commonly listed as a required skill on job descriptions, and resumes routinely boast of the individual’s “motivational abilities.”  This emphasis on motivation has led to the popularity of motivational authors and speakers—some good and some bad.  Even the popular television show Saturday Night Live has parodied our culture’s fascination with motivational speakers—living in a van down by the river anyone? 

The question becomes why is motivation receiving so much attention?  To some extent, the increased interest in motivation is parallel to the increased interest in leadership and has resulted in the development of many different motivational theories and processes.  Of these many theories, Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory, path-goal theory, and McClelland’s learned needs theory all stand out and can play an important role in organizational leadership.

One of the most common ways leaders try to motivate employees is by implementing various financial rewards.  Leaders often hand out more money as a motivational solution because it is relatively quick and easy.  Unfortunately, it is not usually as effective as the leader would like.  Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory explains why this is often the case.

The main premise of the motivator-hygiene theory is that every job has hygiene factors and motivators.  Hygiene factors need to be present for an individual because their absence creates an unsatisfying experience; however, increasing hygiene factors does not increase satisfaction, rather it brings the individual to a neutral state (Steers, Porter, & Bigley, 1996).   According to Herzberg, hygiene factors include one’s salary and other financial incentives; “concerns such as pay…are less capable of energizing workers to higher levels of performance” (Hill, 2008, p. 174).  This is because only motivators can create satisfaction.  Motivators include opportunities for achievement, recognition, the work itself, and growth.

Other authors have since agreed with Herzberg.  For example, Pfeffer and Sutton (2007) state, “so making mistakes in pay can cause people to withhold discretionary effort, ideas, and information…financial incentives have a potent impact on performance, but not necessarily in the positive ways that executives and their advisers anticipate” (p. 5).  So in other words, if an individual feels as though he or she is not being paid fairly, he/she will be demotivated.  However, once the equity threshold is met, paying that individual more money will not increase their motivation.  Kohn (1993) also supports Herzberg’s research by concluding, “Managers often use incentive systems as a substitute for…treating workers well – providing useful feedback, social support, and the room for self-determination….” (p. 6).  One way leaders can provide this useful feedback, support, and independence is by utilizing the path-goal theory of motivation.

According to Northouse (2010), path-goal theory involves leaders who “try to enhance subordinates’ goal attainment by providing information or rewards in the work environment…” (p. 125).  More specifically, the way leaders enhance followers’ goal attainment is by understanding their followers’ unique characteristics and challenges and then responding with the appropriate leadership behaviors.  For example, providing a brand new employee with extra attention and precise direction may be helpful as she learns about her position and the organization; however, those same behaviors can be interpreted as micro-managing by someone who has been with the organization for a longer period of time.  Applying McClelland’s learned needs theory is another way to better understand subordinates’ unique characteristics. 

According to McClelland’s learned needs theory, there are four primary motivations, and individuals acquire certain needs based on their experiences.  Therefore, everyone does not share the same prominent needs or combination of needs.  The four motivations are: (a) need for achievement, (b) need for power, (c) need for affiliation, and (d) need for autonomy (Steers et. al., 1996). 

Those with a need for achievement tend to be competitive and have a high standard of excellence.  Individuals with a need for power have a desire to control their environment and be responsible for the behavior of others.  People with a strong need for affiliation want to develop and maintain strong relationships with others, and they get their validation from those relationships.  Finally, those with a need for autonomy want to control their own work and dislike many rules and regulations.  Therefore, while someone with a high need for affiliation may find the opportunity to work with a team on a project motivating, someone with a high need for autonomy would most likely be demotivated by that same prospect.

Overall, Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory, path-goal theory, and McClelland’s learned needs theory work well together and have the potential to turn motivation from a buzzword into a powerful organizational leadership tool.   

Referenced Works:

  • Kohn, A. (1993). Why incentive plans don’t work. Harvard Business Review, 71(5), 54-63.
  • Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice (5th ed). Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Pfeffer, J. & Sutton, R.I. (2007). Do financial incentives drive company performance? Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Steers, R.M., Porter, L.W., Bigley, G.A. (1996). Motivation and leadership at work. (6th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill.

Animated Leadership Lessons

Here’s a creative article filled with leadership lessons! Who knew there were so many hidden gems in some of our kids’ favorite animated movies?

Principles of Mentoring

Are you mentoring someone?  Thinking about mentoring someone?  Are you being mentored?  The importance of mentoring is regularly discussed, but often, there is little practical advice about how to go about it.  Here are some key principles to keep in mind during a mentoring relationship.  

(The video below contains highlights of keynote address delivered by Kathy Coder and Valerie Faust to the PA Federation of Republican Women on May 19, 2012.)

Managing for Organizational Integrity

Too often organizations don’t realize that ethical failings are leadership problems–not just a lone employee’s shortcomings.  Here’s a great article about the importance of leaders building an ethical organizational climate based on shared values and purpose written by Lynn Sharp Paine, “Managing for Organizational Integrity.”

“From the perspective of integrity, the task of ethics management is to define and give life to an organization’s guiding values, to create an environment that supports ethically sound behavior, and to instill a sense of shared accountability among employees.” – Lynn Sharp Paine

Leadership and Government

Inta-Great’s Founder and President, Kathy Coder, discusses the importance of leadership in government and why she decided to run for State Representative in Pennsylvania’s 16th District. 

What is your primary reason for running?:  I want to use my background and experience to make a difference in our State’s future.  I desire to help create a sustainable flourishing state and region for the next generation.  I am not looking for a “job” or to be a career politician.  I think we need people in Harrisburg who know how to lead from a foundation of integrity and principle-centered decision-making.  I would like to use my leadership, local government, and business experience to help be part of a team who can create positive change.

What will be your top priority?:  Strong leaders understand their role is to serve the people they are leading; they also understand the importance of a compelling vision.  For those reasons, I will serve the people by putting their needs ahead of politics, party, and self-serving agendas.  I will also cast a vision of Pennsylvania as one of the most thriving states in the nation with reduced government size, spending, and taxes and increased job creation and economic development opportunities.

What’s the biggest problem facing the state?:  The lack of leadership.  A common definition of insanity is to keep doing what you’re doing and think you’re going to get different results.   Year after year, we keep hearing about the same issues and nothing changes.  Obviously, we need new thinking and people who have the courage, character, competence, and commitment to make change happen. We need to get the right people on the bus in the right seats and come together for the common good of our State—I think if we do that many of the problems will start being resolved.  Also as leaders, we elected officials need to role model what we want others to do, and we need to open to more accountability.  (For example: I am not taking the State pension and will report my expenses and receipts for the per diem allowances.)

Any final remarks?:  The compelling lack of leadership is why I got involved with politics to begin with.  Never in a million years would I have envisioned that I would be running for office.  Four years ago, my business was thriving, and my life was comfortable.  Then, I attended my first council meeting, and my life was turned upside down.  I saw a lack of leadership and competence. It violated every good leadership practice I was ever taught!  I was convicted that I had no right to complain, unless I was willing to get my hands dirty and get involved.  Since then, I have been passionate about getting others educated and involved as well.  I believe government can be better.  I have spent over 20 years in the private sector learning from wise mentors and business leaders.  I have translated these learnings into my public service.  I understand the importance of applying principle-centered, servant-leadership practices in government.  I realize that elected office is a stewardship and an honor.

If you wish to find out more information about Kathy Coder’s campaign, please visit:  http://www.kathycoder.com/

Integrity According to Gandhi

Quote

“One man cannot do right in one department of his life whilst he is occupied doing wrong in any other department.  Life is one indivisible whole.” – Gandhi