What is Leadership?
Leadership is an oft-misunderstood term. What exactly is a leader and what skills/knowledge/abilities do they need to bring to the plate? In addition to traits and characteristics, they must have to be able to assume the role of “leader”.
We define a leader as: “Someone who will take you to a place you would not have gone to on your own”. If you could do it anyway, who needs a leader? But instead, leaders help individuals achieve their own personal goals. Leadership has to be earned. During our Leadership training series we build on the interesting balance between management and leadership.
Lead workers may have the most challenging leadership role as they can only use their earned, “personal” power. They have no formal “position power”. They excel at the getting their teams to perform because the teams “want to”.
We have seen many lead workers who can’t make the transition to formal supervisor because they can’t or won’t exercise their bequeathed “position power” that comes with their new supervisory position. In addition to "wanting to" perform, now the teams at times “have to” perform. In a nutshell, this is “position power”.
Everson Consulting years ago identified this management/leadership conundrum and together with Bill Koeper, an adult learning PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, developed an assessment and diagnostic tool that gives leader/managers the ability to determine team and individual contributor strengths. The Need-based Leadership Assessment Matrix has proven invaluable to all those who use it. We also incorporate the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, (MBTI), to managers on a wide variety of skills and traits.
"This model [Need Based Leadership Model] has been one of the most effective tools for the application of leadership theory with our present and future supervisors. It has the power to facilitate the understanding of leadership theory and, most importantly, apply it on a daily basis. It allows them to understand their ability to be a positive influence in the leadership development of others and also their own. I have been using this model as the capstone learning experience for over 25 years in my leadership development classes. It has never failed to meet the test of time."
- - - Bob Priester
Once the leader/manager has a solid team assessment it is time to use the Need-based Leadership Diagnostic Tool (NBLDT - Click here to view template) to determine the most effective and efficient leadership “style”, for each employee, for each task. Every employee grows to each skill in a sequential manner. The evolution from incoming “freshman” to "senior", (Subject Matter Expert - SME), “senior”, varies with each employee and each task.
Because every employee can be a smorgasbord of skill sets, the leader needs to be able to assess, diagnose, and implement the correct leadership tool. You don’t want to delegate to a freshman, and please don’t try to control your subject matter experts.
The final piece to the leadership equation is not easily trained. Each leader/manager brings a preferred set of paradigms; some are pioneers, some are settlers. That’s who they were, are, and will be. You cannot change them. Neither role is inherently good, nor bad. The challenge is to get the right people in the right seats, under the right leader/manager, and turn them loose.
The problem often occurs when a pioneer leader/manager heads up a group of settlers, or when a settler leader/manager is put in charge of team of pioneers. Even within the team, settlers bore the pioneers, and pioneers frighten their settler peers. Seldom do we see a team of all like “players” nor is it best to have everyone alike. From diversity comes change.
Everson Consulting has discovered an entirely new role for your team. As we researched organizations around the globe we found that the most effective teams also have a “Wagon Master” to serve as a go- between for the Pioneers and Settlers (Click here to see this relationship). This person need not be a formal leader/manager but their communication skills put them at the critical communication’s crossroad for the team.
These three roles, Pioneer - Settler - Wagon Master, play out at all levels across your organization. Ever wonder why your Executive team, while very talented and seasoned, struggle to work as team? Bring in the “Wagon Master” and watch the synergy take off. Let Everson Consulting assist in your leadership development. We will deliver.
(For more on Pioneers, Settlers, and Wagon Masters see my article on "Everyday Leadership".)