Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Team-building-prototype / hikingartist / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A friend and I were having a conversation about leadership while talking about how a new, grassroots organization would survive and thrive. We were specifically discussing whether this organization needs a charismatic leader to instill enthusiasm and energy within current members, as well as increase membership of community activists.

Our conversation broadened to discuss whether charisma is the secret ingredient in the leadership recipe. Is there a formula or algorithm to determine the amount of charisma needed to be a leader? Maybe eye of newt, wing of bat, and a tablespoon of charisma.

We inherently react positively to someone who has charm or personal magnetism – who smiles and has a positive attitude and energy, or a twinkle in the eyes. But charisma is more than charm. Charisma is a relationship skill (Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Why You Need Charisma, HBR Blog Network, September 11, 2012).

There is no one type of charisma [Got Charisma?], like effective leadership, charisma is situational. In this organization, it seems that the organization needs charisma (relationship building) so that “all feel that they are special and will have their particular needs met, yet also feeling that they are all in it together, drawing strength from association.” [Kanter]

Rather than searching for the one charismatic leader, I think that the organization should focus on the desired outcome as quoted from Kanter above. Charisma is the eye of the beholder, it is what one attributes to another. A charismatic leader for one organization may not be effective for another organization. Ask a Republican if Clinton has charisma, or a Democrat if George W. Bush has charisma.

There is an opportunity for the organization to use the strengths of its members. Perhaps there’s a relationship builder among the members who can step up to that role to raise and maintain enthusiasm and energy.

While enthusiasm and energy are key ingredients in the formation of an organization, as well as during its maintenance to a lesser extent, in order for the organization to be sustainable, its members need to internalize the vision, have a commitment to the mission, and feel as a significant, integral part of the team.

In addition to motivating members, the organization needs other leadership functions. One way to look at the organization’s leadership needs is from the view of eight leadership archetypes presented by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries in The Eight Archetypes of Leadership in the HBR Blog Network, December 18, 2013.

  1. Strategist – provides vision, strategic direction and outside-the-box thinking to create new organization forms and generate future growth.
  2. Change-catalyst – re-engineers and creates new organizational “blueprints.”
  3. Transactor – identifies and tackles new opportunities, thrives on negotiations.
  4. Builder – creates something new and has the talent and determination to make it come true.
  5. Innovator – focuses on the new and solves extremely difficult problems.
  6. Processor – sets up structures and systems needed to support an organization’s objectives.
  7. Coach – gets the best out of people, creates high performance cultures.
  8. Communicator – great influencer, has considerable impact on the surroundings.

While working on its programs, the organization could work on leadership development of its members using their strengths to meet the various leadership and management needs of the organization.

“Working out which types of leaders you have on your team can work wonders for the effectiveness as a group. It helps you to recognize how you and your colleagues can individually make their best contributions. This will in turn create a culture of mutual support and trust, reduce team stress and conflict, and make for more creative problem solving. It also informs your search for new additions to the team: what kinds of personality and skills are you missing?”


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toolKitPeter Bregman (“Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail,” Forbes, 7/11/2013) wrote, “I have never seen a leader fail because he or she didn’t know enough about leadership. … What makes leadership hard isn’t the theoretical, it’s the practical. … There is a massive difference between what we know about leadership and what we do as leaders.

The goal of any leadership development program is to change behavior. After a successful program, participants should show up differently, saying and doing things in new ways that produce better results.

What Peter Bregman wrote about the goal of leadership development applies to all training and development, and it’s the major weakness of non-technical training and development programs. That is, how does an organization ensure that the training and development is applied and whether it makes a difference in the organization? Not merely whether the participant has gained the skill or knowledge, has the participant applied it and is the skill or knowledge appropriate for the organization? The lack of post-training and -development  assessment particularly irks me because the typical response to program failures is – they need more training. But, I digress.

A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote that there is no such thing as a generic leadership development program or plan since each person brings unique experience, skills, and knowledge to the position. In addition, each leadership position, within core competencies, has unique requirements. For example, the organization’s structure, culture, and current situation may contribute to making certain developmental priorities over others.

A first step in creating an individual leadership development plan is an assessment of the leader based on core competencies. [I provided a composite of leadership core competencies in my prior blog post.] It’s important to begin with a 360° assessment: feedback from self-assessment, subordinates, peers, and higher management. Which competencies produce positive results, which are weak, which result in negative effects? It’s important that the assessment address each vector; for example, communication with subordinates and higher management may be weak while communication with peers is not.

An individual leadership development plan would be prepared based on the results of the 360° competency evaluation. Developmental activities to improve a competency may be based on factors such as preferred learning styles, availability, cost, and priority.

In addition, it may be worth considering complementary developmental activities for subordinates, peers, and higher level management. For example, if the the leader needs further development in planning and organizing, it might be beneficial to address complementary planning and coordination development for all levels of the organization.

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My last blog post included a table of leadership competencies (Leadership Development Models) from Zenger Folkman; 2013 Executive Coaching Survey; Departments of the Army, Air Force, and Navy; and federal Senior Executive Service. It was my attempt to determine the commonality in competencies. There is nothing immutable with this arrangement of competencies; these were my choices on that day. Looking at it today, I might rearrange some of the competencies.

The table indicates considerable agreement on leadership competencies and I have spent the last several days working to integrate these leadership competencies.

I first decided to eliminate some competencies.  The first quick three eliminations are:

  • Integrity and honesty – This is a character trait rather than a competency. It doesn’t mean that I don’t expect a leader to have integrity and be honest; of course, I do. I expect a leader to do everything with integrity and honesty.
  • Conflict management/resolution – This is a skill that may be needed in building and maintaining relationships, or in collaboration and teamwork. I think it’s more important to focus on the positive outcome; that is, building and maintaining relationships.
  • Self development, preparing self, assesses self, continual learning – While I expect a leader to be a continual learner, I think that it is not compelling enough to be included among the core competencies of a successful leader. Can a “lack of competence” in self development or continual learning adversely impact a leader?

I then took a look at grouping competencies into clusters. I decided on the four core competency clusters:

  1. Working with others
  2. Delivering results
  3. Organization stewardship
  4. Technical expertise

Within each cluster, I’ve selected core competencies and provide example behaviors.

Working with others

1.  Communicates persuasively and confidently

  • Speaks and writes clearly
  • Articulate spokesperson for the organization
  • Negotiates effectively

2.  Builds and manages relationships

  • Develops professional relationships
  • Fosters and environment of trust, integrity, honesty, and respect
  • Resolves conflicts

3.  Develops others and teams

  • Coaches and mentors
  • Facilitates collaboration
  • Promotes teamwork
  • Promotes training and education

Delivering results

4.  Problem solving

  • Uses appropriate analytical tools
  • Uses appropriate problem solving techniques
  • Encourages creativity and innovation
  • Makes sound decisions
  • Monitors problem resolution

5.  Planning and organizing

  • Aligns policies and operational plans with strategic plan
  • Aligns organization resources with plans and policies

6.  Inspires and motivates others to high performance

  • Encourages and supports high individual performance
  • Encourages and supports high team performance

Organization stewardship

7.  Strategic thinking

  • Translates organization’s vision and mission into strategic initiatives
  • Aligns goals and objectives with strategic plan

8.  Builds coalitions

  • Promotes the organization
  • Acts as credible and convincing spokesperson
  • Develops and manages partnerships

9.  Manages resources

  • Manages financial resources
  • Manages human resources
  • Monitors resource allocation and usage

10.  Manages organizational performance

  • Ensures execution of strategic plan
  • Ensures delivery of organization’s mission
  • Champions continuous improvement

Technical expertise

Technical competencies are unique to the leadership position. For example, an executive director of a very small nonprofit may need to knowledge of fund development, budgeting, accounting, and the nonprofit’s operational area. An executive director of a nationwide nonprofit may need a broad operational knowledge.


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Thanks to the world wide web, I have been searching, reading, and organizing over the past few days.  Because of my experience with all of the military branches and federal civil service, I collected their lists of leadership competencies.  I also found a list of 16 leadership competencies compiled by Zenger and Folkman that I first found addressed in Making Yourself Indispensable (John H. Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman, and Scott K. Edinger, Harvard Business Review, October 2011).  I finally included the skills from the 2013 Executive Coaching Survey that I discussed in my blog post, Leadership and Management, the Balance.

What resulted is fascinating. (Note: After several attempts at building a table in this blog, I gave up and inserted two images of the table.  A more legible view of the table can be found in a PDF file, Leadership Development Models.)
Leadership Competencies
Leadership Competencies

Zenger Folkman – Zenger Folkman Blog, http://zengerfolkman.com/category/blog

CEO Coaching – 2013 Executive Coaching Survey, Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Leadership Development and Research and The Miles Group

Department of the Army – Army Leadership, Army Regulation 600-100, 8 March 2007

Department of the Navy – Navy Leadership Competency Model, Center for Personal and Professional Development, http://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cppd/News.aspx?ID=1
Core competencies: A – Accomplishing Mission, B – Leading People, C – Leading Change, D – Working with People, E – Resource Stewardship

Department of the Air Force – Leadership and Force Development, Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1
Leadership competencies: A – Personal Leadership, B – Leading People/Teams, C – Leading the Institution

Federal Civil Service, Senior Executive Service – U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Guide to Senior Executive Service Qualifications
Core competencies: A – Fundamental Competencies, B – Leading Change, C – Leading People, D – Results Driven, E –Business Acumen, F – Building Coalitions

The next blog post will look at synthesizing a core set of leadership competencies from the above.

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fingerprintBefore embarking on a framework for leadership development, I suggest three assumptions.

1.  Each leadership position is different.  For example,

  • An executive director for a small, local not-for-profit with a paid staff of three requires leadership, management and supervisory skills, and perhaps some technical knowledge such as fund development.
  • A chief executive officer of a medium manufacturing operation requires leadership and management skills, with perhaps limited supervisory skills and technical knowledges.

2.  Each employee brings different knowledges, skills, strengths, and weaknesses to the leadership position.


3.  Individuals vary in learning styles.

A critical element that learned as an employee in human resources, a trainer, and a senior military officer is that the position or job is a keystone. That is, the position’s duties:

  • Are linked to other positions in the organization and mission requirements
  • Provide the basis for determining what knowledges and skills are expected for the employee to bring to the job and what can be learned after employment
  • Determine training and development requirements
  • Drive the outcomes by which performance is assessed

Therefore, a leadership development plan is unique to each leadership position. However, there are core leadership and management competencies that can serve as a boilerplate, template, or menu for tailoring to the position requirements. There have been opinions expressed that competency-based leadership development is flawed. What would we develop in a leader if not the competencies required to perform duties of the positions? What knowledge does the position require? What skills does the position require?


After determining the core competencies of the specific leadership position, the individual leadership development plan would be tailored based on the knowledge and skills that the incumbent brings to the job. For example, if the incumbent has had successful experience in dealing with conflict, there should not be any need for training or development in conflict resolution.

After selecting the competencies that the incumbent leader should develop, the next step is to determine the training or development options for each competency. Classroom training and seminars aren’t the only options. In some cases, seminars are too expensive or time consuming; for example, for a small, local nonprofit executive director. The core competency training plan should offer development options for each option; for example, coaching, seminar, webinar, reading assignments.

Finally, the individual leadership development plan should include an evaluation component. There should be periodic evaluation of progress and effectiveness of development activities. It is far too common that training and development are assumed to make a difference; that is, improve performance.

The next blog post will cover leadership core competencies.

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Officer Candidate SchoolIn my last blog post, Leadership and Management, the Balance, I posed the question: what should leadership programs address? While most literature focuses on interpersonal or social skills of leaders, being a leader also requires the exercise of managerial skills. The last question I posed was, how can we develop both leadership and managerial skills?

Before embarking into the content and structure of leadership development, let’s look at what people say is wrong with leadership development.

Most of the articles begin with a basis that leadership development is big business.

  • Leadership development approached $50 billion in 2000
  • More than 20,000 books and thousands of articles have been written about leadership
  • Publishers, universities, consultants jockey to be ‘go-to’ partners and gurus
  • U.S. business spent more than $170 billion on leadership development

Yes, leadership development is big business. And yes, we have leadership failures. Some attribute the leadership failures directly to failure of leadership development programs. However, I think that’s an unwarranted leap. Individual failures in leadership have many sources: poor assessment of  leadership potential, lack of evaluating candidates during leadership training and development, lack of performance assessment and corrective action of leaders.

Since leadership development is such a big business, it’s easy to find many views on the problems, flaws, and failures of leadership development. Some of the flaws cited are:

  • Leadership development is controlled by one faction of the organization; e.g. executive management or the human resources department. [1]
  • Leadership development is based on the leadership style du jour. [1]
  • Leadership development metrics measure the wrong things. [1]
  • Most initiatives focus on competencies, skill development and techniques, which in some ways is like rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship.” [2]
  • Leadership development using a competency-based model.

It is not what a person knows so much as it is how they’re able to use said knowledge to inspire and create brilliance in others that really matters.

One of the problems is competency is predictable and easy to measure, and corporations like predictable and easy. However just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to measure, and certainly not when measured in a vacuum. [3]

  •  “… training is indeed the #1 reason leadership development fails. While training is often accepted as productive, it rarely is. The terms training and development have somehow become synonymous when they are clearly not.

My problem with training is it presumes the need for indoctrination on systems, processes and techniques. Moreover, training assumes that said systems, processes and techniques are the right way to do things. When a trainer refers to something as “best practices” you can with great certitude rest assured that’s not the case. Training focuses on best practices, while development focuses on next practices. Training is often a rote, one directional, one dimensional, one size fits all, authoritarian process that imposes static, outdated information on people. The majority of training takes place within a monologue (lecture/presentation) rather than a dialog. Perhaps worst of all, training usually occurs within a vacuum driven by past experience, not by future needs. [4]

How should a leadership development program be structured and what should it contain? The next blog post will look at a framework.



1. Douglas A. Ready and Jay A. Conger, Why Leadership Development Efforts Fail, MITSloan Management Review, Spring 2003

2. Ray Williams; Why leadership development fails to produce good leaders; Financial Post; November 3, 2013

3. Mike Myatt; The Most Common Leadership Model – And Why It’s Broken; Forbes; March 28, 2013

4. Mike Myatt; The #1 Reason Leadership Development Fails; Forbes; December 19, 2013

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teeter totter There are as many ideas about leadership development as there are leaders, managers, supervisors, boards of directors, consultants, business schools, and employees.

What should leadership programs address? Web searches for articles about leadership skills, tend to result in sites that predominantly address interpersonal or social skills.  However, leaders who do not manage are likely to have failures; for example, President Obama’s failure to manage implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes in What Inexperienced Leaders Get Wrong  (HBR Blog Network, November 21, 2013),

Much has been made of the distinction between leadership and management. Too many managers, not enough leaders, the critics say. …But my work with numerous top executives shows that this is a false choice. Great leaders also have managerial inclinations. They are practical as well as visionary. They care about efficiency. They might not be the ones to roll up their sleeves for the tasks of execution, but they know what to ask of those who do. These abilities grow with experience.

The question might also be asked as, should leaders focus on results or on people?  The answer is yes. Matthew Lieberman answers this question in Should Leaders Focus on Results, or on People?  (HBR Blog Network, December 27, 2013).

A lot of ink has been spilled on peopleʼs opinions of what makes for a great leader. As a scientist, I like to turn to the data. In 2009, James Zenger published a fascinating survey of 60,000 employees to identify how different characteristics of a leader combine to affect employee perceptions of whether the boss is a “great” leader or not. Two of the characteristics that Zenger examined were results focus and social skills. Results focus combines strong analytical skills with an intense motivation to move forward and solve problems. But if a leader was seen as being very strong on results focus, the chance of that leader being seen as a great leader was only 14%. Social skills combine attributes like communication and empathy. If a leader was strong on social skills, he or she was seen as a great leader even less of the time — a paltry 12%.

However, for leaders who were strong in both results focus and in social skills, the likelihood of being seen as a great leader skyrocketed to 72%.

On the other hand, CEOs and boards of directors have a different view of the skills in which they need coaching as shown in a survey of over 200 CEOs, boards of directors, and senior executives conducted in 2013 by the Stanford Center for Leadership Development and Research and The Miles Group.  (Research: What CEOs Really Want from Coaching, HBR Blog Network, August 15, 2013)

The Stanford/Miles survey questions emphasized social skills with respect to the questions posed. The following table depicts the top six skills that CEOs and boards believed needed development with rank order and the percentage of positive response. [http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/cldr/research/surveys/coaching.html]


Based on my personal experience in leadership positions, I believe that leaders must practice management skills as well.  If a leader does not manage the execution of his/her vision, is that leadership?

Linda Hill and Kent Lineback stated the need for both leadership and managerial skills clearly and convincingly in the HBR article, “I’m a leader, not a manager!” (HBR Blog Network, December 14, 2011)

Most writers about leadership then and now explicitly note the continuing importance of management. Success still depends on execution, controls and boundaries, systems, processes, and continuity. Without all that, leadership only produces dreams. Nonetheless, being a leader has taken on a shiny, romantic aura these days while management has been given an undertone of grubby practicality. Leaders are superior beings who inspire the rest of us to greatness while managers are dull business functionaries obsessed with budgets, schedules, policies, and procedures.

Both leadership and management are crucial, and it doesnʼt help those responsible for the work of others to romanticize one and devalue the other. To survive and succeed, all groups and businesses must simultaneously change in some ways and remain the same in others. They must execute and innovate, stay the course and foster change. Yes, the guidance, group skills, and mindsets required for serious change and innovation differ from those needed for continuity and steady execution. But that only means those in charge must be able to act as both change agent and steward of continuity, manager and leader, as the situation requires. The challenge is to discern when one versus the other is needed. To idealize leadership and demean management only makes that challenge even harder.

How can we develop both leadership and managerial skills?  How can develop the ability to discern when to apply management or leadership?

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