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Balanced Approach to Leadership


Leadership consultant Simon Batty of Maple Associates explains how values, effectiveness and influence are the three dimensions of successful management.

There are three dimensions to effective leadership – values, effectiveness and influence.

Effective leadership is about developing ability in each of the three dimensions and then applying these skills and abilities in a balanced, three-dimensional way.

The first dimension of leadership is that of values. These are the internal thoughts that influence the way a leader views the world around them.

Some values are deeply embedded in our moral framework, they guide us in the difference between right and wrong, good or bad and are challenging to change or modify as we grow older.

Other values are less deeply instilled in our psychological make-up.

Take the example of a manager who acquired their skills and leadership style in a highly structured organisation; on joining a more open and flexible organisation, this manager would, undoubtedly, bring with them some inappropriate values.

Although the specifics may change, this scenario is a common phenomenon, rooted in the fact that each of us develops a strong autobiography as we experience life and work.

With guidance and coaching we can learn to change the way we think about a present role and align our leadership values to those more appropriate for our current organisation.

Values are intensely personal to the individual, and to the organisation.

We may be forgiven for thinking that the easiest way to ensure leaders have the right values for the organisation, is to recruit people with the right values in the first place.

However, to get a perfect match could be a long and arduous task and lead to missed opportunities in overlooking candidates that demonstrate strengths in other dimensions.

Instead, identify the desirable core values that every leader within the organisation must display, then recruit people who broadly match the value set and demonstrate the potential to develop those values that are not yet strengths.

In order to lead people effectively, the individual leader must first be able to self-manage.

A manager must be in control of their own workload, their own decision making processes and capable of planning and goal setting.

It also requires that they have sufficient specialist ability to carry out the functional aspects of their role.

A leader struggling with professional competence may have to compensate by allocating a disproportionate amount of time to their own tasks, thereby failing to delegate, or coach and guide their team members towards achieving their true potential.

Truly influential leaders are not necessarily those who are seeking the popular vote.

Charm may work for a while, but real credibility and respect are based upon the ability to deliver results in all areas.

The ability to influence others is crucial to effective leadership and is of equal importance to the other two dimensions.

Assessing Three-Dimensional Leadership
Three-dimensional leadership manifests itself in the way a leader behaves. Therefore, in order to identify a leader’s strengths and weaknesses, obtain feedback from peers, managers and team members via a profiling tool.

Using a three-dimensional leadership appraisal tailored to the organisation is critical to this process and ensures feedback is relevant to both the leader and the organisation.

Symptoms of Two-Dimensional Leadership
Leaders who have developed two dimensions, at the expense of the third, usually exhibit behavioural characteristics that are symptomatic of their development needs.

1) High Values & Effectiveness Score, Low Influence
These leaders care passionately about organisational goals and are strongly task driven.

They set a fine example by managing their own workload effectively, prioritising their tasks and setting goals for team members.

If responsible for a professional or specialist function, they often display prowess that the team members respect and admire.

But VEi leaders struggle to motivate, enthuse or guide their team members beyond that required to get the task done.

They fail to communicate the reasons behind goals and, whilst delegating tasks may not be a problem, they struggle to make team members feel involved or empowered.

2) High Values & Influence, Low Effectiveness
VIe leaders are inspiring to be around, charismatic and animated.

As leaders they find it easy to enthuse their team members with the big picture and often inspire people to pursue challenging goals with limited resources.

They feel comfortable in the organisation and prefer to lead people who also aspire to the organisation’s goals. To these people, being part of the ‘team organisation’ and encouraging others to be a part of it, is what leadership is all about.

Unfortunately, VIe leaders are great at talking and influencing and though desperate to do the right thing, often fail to deliver on the basics within their own role.

The danger for VIe leaders is that their team, their bosses, or their peers, may find the passion and charisma eventually wears a little thin.

3) High Influence & Effectiveness, Low Values
IEv leaders are influential and charismatic.

Their team members admire and follow them because of their influence and task effectiveness.

These leaders are effective at creating tight, close-knit teams, technically proficient, where the job gets done on time and under budget.

Sales teams led by these leaders are highly visible and are often seen as impregnable fortresses, apart from the rest of the organisation.

It is common for IEv leaders to create their own little empires, either knowingly or unknowingly.

This is because their values, and the way they think about their role/team mismatches the organisation’s values.

In highly competitive companies, or those struggling with change, IEv leaders can create a silo of outstanding performance, whilst providing no help to those leaders or teams around them.

One-Dimensional Leaders
Leaders who score one dimension significantly higher than the other two, may require considerable coaching/training in order to be more effective.

Appropriate training and personal coaching can be extremely effective in helping one-dimensional leaders make impressive strides in their leadership ability.

Restoring Balance
The key to three-dimensional leadership exists in achieving a relative balance between each dimension, with all dimensions at an average or better than average score when compared to the leaders across the organisation.

Three equal scores at below average do not an effective leader make!

If we develop leaders who demonstrate the right values, personal effectiveness and positive influence within our organisations, we are developing leaders who set the example that others want to follow.

Life is a learning experience; so is leadership.

Simon Batty MBA MCMI MinstLM can be contacted at 01834 813623, 07989 390 519 or at mailto:[email protected].


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