Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Four Imperitives of Business Leadership

In the model "A Vision of Leadership" (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation), I named as values lead, follow, implement and innovate. I now recognize them as "super values" or imperatives. If anyone is leading a business or part of one or leading a project these are absolutely necessary.

Throughout I will use the word enterprise, to describe a business or project or any human undertaking.

Implement: This is what we must be done to meet the expectations of existing internal and external customers.
Innovate: This is what must be done to satisfy the (anticipated) expectations of returning or new internal and external customers.

If one implements and innovates it is possible to sustain an enterprise. The leadership practice that supports or is derived from the imperatives to implement and innovate is sustaining. Every action or decision a leader takes must stand up to the test, "does it sustain the enterprise?" Taking an organic analogy, does it sustain the life-force to the enterprise? Is it nourishing, nurturing, vitalizing?

Earlier I proposed realizing, making real . . . .

The other imperatives

Two Months of The Leader-Follower

In thirty posts over two months I have described and illustrated "A Vision of Leadership," an original, interactive, multidimensional leadership model.

I'm not sure where to take this blog next but I am considering comparing other leadership models to this one, hopefully stimulating exchanges about what has and has not worked in our lives.

I'm taking a break now.

Happy Holidays!

Features of the Leadership Model

This is the index to a series of posts about the fourteen features of the proposed model, A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation). I am still very much open to comments about the proposal and to modifying it as necessary.

The model is driven by two pairs of values that are often perceived as competing: lead and follow, implement and innovate. The index follows the order of posting. Each model feature is italicized in the post title.



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Monday, December 12, 2005

Using the Model Viewer

Leadership has never been a simple subject. It is complex because many of the qualities that describe it are related in ways that are not always obvious. We found we could penetrate this complexity with a tetrahedral model. When you read a piece like the one below you may find it helpful to open A Vision of Leadership from the link on the right in a separate window. Select any aspect of leadership to open the viewer, close the large window and position the viewer alongside the blog. (Actually, you can keep it open for reference any time.) Manipulate the position of the tetrahedron to reveal relationships among the qualities of leadership that are not so easily described visually with two dimensional illustrations.

Note added 1/10/06.
Since this post I have found it preferable to eliminate popup windows. Now all windows are the same size and for greater clarity, the "viewer" is extended to include the description of the model feature that has been selected.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Which Apprentice Candidate Will Best Handle a Crisis?

The interlude between two episodes of the final round provides an unusual opportunity to look at project leadership during a project before the competition's outcome is known. We don't really know how each team is doing according to whatever implementation plans they decided except that each leader now faces a crisis. Bad weather can shut down Randall's charity ball game and Rebecca has lost the star attraction to her charity comedy show. What we have seen are vignettes of project manager behavior and this is how some of those look through the lens of A Vision of Leadership.

Visualization. Each project leader has in his/her mind some visualization of the desired project outcome that is a basis for directing their staff. We did not see project managers sharing or developing their visualization with their team and instead they move straight into delegating responsibilities. This requires total trust by the following team members that the PM has all the wisdom, insight, experience and competence necessary formulate how the task will be best accomplished in all its aspects.

Follow is opposite visualization in the tetrahedral model. This means that if you don't share a leader's visualization, you cannot place your actions into the context visualized by the person you are following - you follow blindly. This is well illustrated by Mark who was quite disturbed that Randall wanted him at the gift store and not working with the ball game's color commentator and, again, when he was left on his own erecting important facilities and signs. Mark said nothing to Randall.

Respecting. What's really happening? Mark could explain to Randall how he was prioritizing his time but, apparently, he has insufficient respect for his own potential to lead Randall. Meanwhile Randall is not respecting Mark when he countermands his earlier direction without checking the impact upon Mark's activities and later, leaves Mark alone conducting a major task without checking with him about how he is doing. Together they are an ineffective organization and they do not collaborate.

Structuring. Structuring emerges from the desires to lead and to implement. In the case of Mark, Randall's structuring of his organization and even his structuring of his visualization of how things will come together are called into question.

Responding. The outcomes of collaboration and contribution require a leader to be responsive, a practice that supports their commitments to innovate and follow. Randall appeared non-responsive to the representative of his charity and the significance she gave to the message about the high incidence of pediatric AIDS. The same was true when the ball park's owner twice raised the issue of bad weather to Randall and later emphasized how he was an important stakeholder in the project. Randall's capacity to collaborate and contribute in this project are now in question.

Rebecca at least acknowledged that there would be no purple food for the VIPs at her comedy show. However, it was not obvious that she respected and responded to two other comments from her corporate sponsor. The first was when they explained they had no experience in supporting charitable fundraising (although one executive later replied to Toral's specific question about direct solicitations), and the second was when they questioned the adequacy of three bartenders serving 150 people.

Improvising. Each team faces a crisis that shatters their leader's original visualization of how their event will be constructed and conducted. The outcome of each event and each team's performance is now likely to be judged according to how well they improvise in these crises. The practice of improvisation derives its strength from commitments to lead and to innovate and supports the outcomes of visualization and collaboration.

I recall Rebecca dependably improvising under pressure but have no similar memory of Randall. To the contrary, it was Donald Trump who formulated a way for him to go to his grandmother's funeral while continuing the interview process. Rebecca continued the interview despite a broken ankle, she prepared and delivered a presentation at the last minute for her team when no-one else would, and she replaced ineffective actors with Randall and herself in her commercial. I expect her to at least consider standing in for Joe Piscapo as MC.

Responding, Improvising and Respecting are the three leadership practices that support collaboration. Collaboration is necessary in both teams for them to get through their respective crises and in the collaboration stakes Rebecca has an edge.

Respecting, Structuring and Improvising are practices that emerge from the commitment to lead. Weakness in these weakens the outcomes of Visualization, Organization and Collaboration and this is where Randall is vulnerable.

We get a clue about how this happened from the team-picking dinner when Rebecca "put on her game face" and assertively negotiated her members. Randall was unprepared for her competitive toughness and may have lost much of his earlier confidence. Unlike Falisha who was fired last week, Rebecca continues to demonstrate the "toughness" demanded by Donald Trump.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

What more would be possible if . . . . .

  • we were more intelligently adaptable about when to lead and follow?
  • as leaders, when one of our followers is ready to lead, we encourage that person to lead while we temporarily follow?
  • as followers, when we know we will receive support from our leaders and know we have something to contribute, we adopt a leadership role?
  • our institutions from families to schools to business to churches supported us in our development as leader-followers?
  • you and I and everyone accepted that we can choose to lead and choose to follow according to our innate and developing sense of what is appropriate?
  • you and I and everyone cultivated a sensibility to other's choices about whether they should lead or follow according to their perception of what is appropriate?
  • rather than stereotyping others as leaders or followers, we adopted the expectation that everyone can be either according to their perception of what would work best for them and others in a given situation?
If as a leader, you find yourself thinking there would be chaos if these circumstances arose, can you be certain that today you are really in control and there is no chaos? Surely, given the consequential increased participation and responsibility-taking, it is worth considering instead, how these conditions can be made viable.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lessons from A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation)

The proposed model had been completed and published to its web site a month or so before I started this blog. While an interactive web site provides a good opportunity for examining a three dimensional model, much of its meaning remains implied. I saw that a blog creates the opportunity for extended exploration and, of course, feedback.

Here's what I learned from describing A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) in twenty five posts over the last seven weeks.

  • The Model. The model appears (to me) to work logically. The labels given to the edges, faces and corners of the tetrahedron are congruent, each illuminating the meaning of the other in a variety of combinations.
  • The Values. The four values lead, follow, innovate and implement appear particularly strong and might even be all embracing for conducting productive workplace relationships. Isn't workplace leadership about just that, conducting productive relationships?
  • Individual and Collective Leadership. I have noticed from time to time and recorded it in my writing that these values and their associated practices are just as relevant to 'self-leadership' as to 'other-leadership'. Leadership comprises, simultaneously, aspects of the individual and collective.
  • The Leader-Follower. The leader-follower concept appears robust; we are naturally neither one nor the other although in extremes we may tend to predominantly lead or follow. Earlier I had proposed that the decision to follow is a leadership decision. Now I am comfortable in asserting that following is an essential aspect of leadership.
  • Implement-Innovate. I discovered similar strength in the implement-innovate value pair. It appears we often and optimally engage in both. Just as for the leader-follower, in extremes and out of habit or inclination we tend to prioritize one of implement and innovate over the other.
  • Lean Leadership. I was pleased to discover this might be a model for 'lean leadership,' in which leadership is diffused to those on the production floor in their management of continuous improvement processes.
  • Customers, Productivity and Sustainability. In the 'lean' context I became aware that a) implementation is about meeting the expectations of internal and external customers, b) innovation is about winning new or repeat customers and c) simultaneous/complementary innovation and implementation is necessary for productivity improvement and sustainability.
  • Leadership Practices. In an early post I wrote that all six identified leadership practices have equal weight. I should have written, 'appropriate weight.' In the best case I believe we exercise judgment and skill in adapting the emphasis of our practices to changing personal and situational needs. I do claim, however, that leadership is jeopardized by omitting or under or over emphasizing any of these practices.
  • Respecting. In the same post I also identified that respecting is the most fundamental practice because it permits us to work together.
  • Versatility. While respect may be the most fundamental of the six identified practices, it has become evident that implicit in the model there are two practices or maybe skills that are even more fundamental and really might be considered a single skill. If we accept the four values lead, follow, innovate and implement to comprise the driving forces of leadership it may be that making good decisions about when to lead or follow, and when to innovate or implement are essential skills. This suggests another very important leadership skill is flexibility, adaptability or versatility.
  • Commitment. Another leadership attribute that surfaced during this writing is commitment. I have written in terms of our values 'driving' our practices. However our values are only as useful as our commitment to them. So a better language might be that 'we commit to values which guide our practices.'
  • Implied Values. Summarizing, versatility and commitment are implied values in A Vision of Leadership. There appear to be relationships between versatility and innovation and commitment and implementation which suggest a direction for further consideration.
  • Other Leadership Models. I have begun wondering what the relationships between a Vision of Leadership and other, more established leadership models might be. I anticipate finding perspectives that can influence this independently derived model.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Conscious Decision to Follow is an Act of Leadership

The model "A Vision of Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation" proposes that follow is one of four fundamental leadership values and that to follow requires commitment to the three leadership practices of :

Each practice represents a significant commitment to oneself and to another/others and any commitment that guides future action is an act of leadership.

Meanwhile the other three practices, realizing, improvising and structuring support visualization at the base of the tetrahedron when follow is at the top. Even while we are following we value lead, implement and innovate, and thus sustain and achieve the visualization we are following, whether it be our own or another's. This is how we avoid following blindly which, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with leadership.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Apprentice, Collaborate or Lose

Those who watched last night's Apprentice witnessed clear examples of the importance of knowing when to lead and when to follow.

Ala and Alicia confused leading with winning and following with losing. Their only chance was to have the best project result but neither was prepared to let go of her need for personal success. Each was unable to integrate the other's contributions into a shared concept. There was no collaboration and it showed in their work product.

In contrast Rebecca, as project leader, originally required actors for their commercial. When it became clear this was not working, she acknowledged so to Randall and sought his contribution to the solution. In their taxi at the beginning of their project they had agreed to push each other to be effective. This opened the door to flexible leadership and collaboration.

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