The Extraordinary Leader, Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders, AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK, Continued

 

Personal comments:

Authors quotes:

Insight 16.  Leadership attributes are often developed in non obvious ways.  Our research has helped us uncover a new approach to behavioral change that we have arbitrarily called nonlinear development.  We will argue that the vast majority of action plans created by leaders use a linear philosophy regarding behavioral change.  But, the perception of competency may be strengthened in non obvious ways.  We will argue that competencies are not reality, but are the perceptions of others about a given leader.  There may be non obvious ways to improve how leaders are perceived.  We have called  these ‘competency companions’, and these are behaviors that always rise or fall with another competency.  While it is impossible to prove cause and effect between the two, the fact that they are laced so tightly together suggests that something important can be learned from them.

The practical implications of this are huge.  For example, assume that a leader in an organization receives the following feedback:  ‘Your subordinates do not see you as highly motivational or inspirational.  They do not feel energized after they interact with you. They do not feel their horizons are expanded after meeting with you.’

The common and seemingly practical way to address this message and change these perceptions would be to do the following (2 of 4):

-Enroll in a public-speaking course in order to learn how to be more compelling in presentations.

-Read good texts or articles on human motivation.

Our research, however, on the competency companions to ‘inspires and motivates others’ reveals some different ways to improve people’s perceptions on this competency.

Personal comments:

The issue here is one of providing clear and specific communication, which is typically left out of conversations (related to all aspects of leadership).  As the authors state, “There is obviously something about being clear that is closely linked with people feeling motivated and inspired.”  Authors use the word, “Expectations”, and you have heard me write about expectations more than once.  Without clear and specific expectations words can be interpreted in many ways, typically dependent on life experiences.  Expectations should address Who, What, Where, and When, at least.

Further discussion on Insight 16 would not be helpful.  Please consider the importance of non-linear development (something other than the obvious) to improve competencies/performance.

Next: The Extraordinary Leader

Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders

AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK

Continued

The Extraordinary Leader, Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders, AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK, Continued

 

Authors quotes:

“Insight 14.  Great leaders are not perceived as having major weaknesses.  One of the common bits of folk wisdom about leaders is that great leaders have great strengths, but  strengths taken too far become weaknesses.  Furthermore, no one is perfect, so great leaders must have highly visible flaws.  We were fully expecting to find that notion confirmed by our data.

To our surprise, there is no hint of that.  Instead, our data describe the leaders who are seen as highly effective by their subordinates as not having flaws.  Their scores across all competency categories were remarkably on the high side.  Frankly, we wondered if there was not a pervasive halo effect that caused people who are really effective at a few skills to be perceived as being good at everything.  We fear the converse may also be true: that leaders who are not seen as standing out on several dimensions are perceived as not standing out on any dimension.

Insight 15.  Fatal flaws must be fixed.  While our focus will be on developing strengths, there are some circumstances when a focus on weaknesses is warranted.  This often happens when the nature of the weakness jeopardizes the center pole of the ‘leadership tent’; character.  If a person is not honorable, does not keep promises, does not tell the truth, or if this person places personal gain above the needs of the organization, then that flaw will cause that person to be ineffective.

There are other ‘fatal flaws.’  These begin with the inability to learn from mistakes, and include poor interpersonal skills, unwillingness to accept new ideas, lack of accountability, and a lack of initiative.

Personal comments:

Personal experience, having met with hundreds of employees in my career (one-on-one), make the authors’ comment, “leaders who are seen as highly effective by subordinates as not having flaws”, inaccurate.  Two things may be in play here to make that statement; one, employees “kissing up”, or two, they were fearful of being identified in follow-up communication.  Great leaders do not establish fear, but they do behave in a way that gives employees the ability, and willingness, to speak their minds.  It can create pitfalls, but not having the ability to speak openly can create greater vulnerability.  My personal experience was an employee of mine, who overheard a conversation with two renters in my office rental business.  She was very unhappy with what they were saying about me, and she interrupted their meeting to express her dissatisfaction.  The next day she told me what had happened.  I also received a letter from one of the renters in the infamous conversation demanding an apology from both of us.  I wrote across the face of the letter, “no apology needed, no apology given.” The support was appreciated, but more importantly her courage.

Fatal flaws (Insight 15), are definitely problematic, but rarely corrected by bosses.  Why is that?  Consider lack of courage, bosses “pet”, and indifference. Two that were typically corrected were stealing and/or verbally abusing co-workers.

Next: The Extraordinary Leader

Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders

AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK

Continued

The Extraordinary Leader, Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders, AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK, Continued

 

“Insight 13.  Greatness is not caused by the absence of weakness.  Our data reveal that a large percentage of leaders, approximately 84 percent, do not possess any severe weakness, and yet they are not perceived as strong leaders.  They are ‘blah.’  Subordinates do not single out any one weakness as the root cause of the leader being weak.  Instead the combination of being in the ‘mid-range’ on a number of dimensions is the pattern of the mediocre manager.  In sum, the absence of weaknesses combined with the absence of any pronounced strengths commits you to being no better than average.

Our research show that the self-evaluation of most leaders in this category is highly distorted.  They feel like they are good leaders.  Possibly because they are not really bad at any one area of leadership, they come to believe that they are good.  But rather that trying to convince them that they are bad leaders, we think it far more valuable to help this group see what they can do to become outstanding in several areas, and that when they do that, they will in all likelihood be perceived as highly effective leaders.

Our research indicates that good leaders are, in fact, producing better outcomes than leaders who are bad.  Good is better than bad, but neither they themselves nor their leaders appear to recognize the substantial contribution they could make by moving from being merely good to great.”

Personal comments:

The leaders I worked for seemed incapable of recognizing the advantages of going from good to great, much of it related to their lack of interest in learning about it, and effort.  They had other “priorities” unrelated to effective business practices too numerous to mention, but I will mention one.  The business owner who found it easier to “chew” on an employee rather than discover the causes of shipping delays, mishandled products/orders, and lack of effective communication.

Those who are interested in being an Extraordinary Leader need to observe today’s market place, and realize how poorly managers operate.  Those who read my blog will not often see leader behavior as I understand it.

One of my favorite examples is the department manager at Sears berating the sales person right in front of me.  Sales person response was, “common occurrence”.  My response, “you need to find another place to work”.  I don’t shop there any longer.

Next: The Extraordinary Leader

Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders

AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK

Continued

The Extraordinary Leader, Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders, AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK, Continued

 

“Insight 12.  Powerful combinations produce nearly exponential results:  Being good at one thing is sufficient for some athletes or musicians, but seldom for leaders.  Our research confirmed that a combination of competencies is the key to being highly effective.  For example, the person who is focused only on getting results often fails to obtain those results.  Why?  It is akin to a person attempting to row a boat with one paddle.  Instead, good results come from a combination of skills, especially those joining the emphasis on results with strong interpersonal behavior and relationships with people.  Neither one, by itself, takes you very far.  Together, they produce spectacular outcomes.  In one study we found that if you are in the top quartile in Interpersonal Skills but rated poorly on Focus on Results, the likelihood of you been perceived as a great leader is only 9 percent.  If you are in the top quartile on Focus on Results but given low ratings on Interpersonal Skills, the likelihood of being perceived as a great leaders is 13 percent.  But if you possess both strong Interpersonal Skills and a Focus on Results, then your probability of being perceived as a great leader jumps to 66 percent.  It is the powerful combination of those factors that makes a huge difference.

Whether you are working with complex organizations or with one subordinate, there is seldom any one thing responsible for producing a positive outcome..  Instead, it is the combination of several forces that produces desired outcomes.  In general, leaders are most effective when they possess strengths in each of the major clusters of competencies.”

Personal comments:

As this discussion continues it is important to keep in mind board members influence on the ability/inability of organization leaders to accomplish their mission/vision.  The problems they create can interfere with organizational success.  One particular problem is that quite often they do not know or understand what an organization does or how they do it.

Often those that express interest in participating on boards have the sole purpose of padding their resume’, or in other words, improving their ability to be considered for higher paying jobs, more influence, including politics.

I bring this up for consideration so that leaders apply a simple process of evaluating potential board members (purpose for those wanting to be considered, personalities, interest, and abilities related to organizational mission, and vision).  Board members need to be willing to participate beyond sitting at the table for a board meeting.  What level of participation is dependent upon organizational needs, and typically at a level where the board member DOES know ‘what we do’.

Next: The Extraordinary Leader

Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders

AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK

Continued