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.

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