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Article No.: 10-4

Article Title: Leadership in Balance: Eight Ways of Thinking

Author: Linda Gravett, Ph.D., SPHR, CEQC

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To research our forthcoming book, Leadership in Balance, Dr. John Kucia and I interviewed CEO’s and COO’s from successful organizations around the country.  We discovered that leaders who have found a balance between getting results and employing a process that leverages the talents of their workforce have eight ways of thinking in common.  If you aspire to be a leader at any level, you might consider whether you can build these ways of thinking into your approach to leadership.

1.  Approaches leadership as a relationship not a position.
  • Shows respect for people by listening closely.
  • Creates bonds of friendship and a sense of camaraderie.
  • Engenders a sense of humility balanced with enormous organizational ego.
  • Creates loyalty to the institution rather than to self which builds organizational capability.
  • Understands that leadership is more than one person can accomplish alone.
  • Needs help and admits mistakes.
  • Realizes the competitive advantage of harnessing the power of interdependence and purpose-driven collaboration as a way of proceeding as a leader and as an organization.
2.  Understands that the leader embodies the brand promise.
  • Is both noble and humble. . . and as such embodies the values and principles of the organization.
  • Sets the tone by what is done and valued.
  • Understands that trust is the essential foundation for collaboration, balanced with normal instincts for competition.
  • Addresses issues with honesty, trust, integrity, respect, and affection for the dignity of others.
  • Brings social and emotional intelligence to leadership.
  • Has a transparent way of making decisions with personal behavior that nurtures trust.
  • Models and communicates a set of expectations and preferences for behavior of other leaders throughout the organization, beginning at the top.
  • Understands that many people inside and outside derive their relationship with the institution through their real or perceived image of the leader.
3.  Is motivated by a higher purpose, a mission, and believes that mission drives the numbers.
  • Focuses attention on purpose, mission and values of the institution to raise peoples’ motivation above personal interest to service to society.
  • Realizes that sole focus on the bottom line may lead to short term thinking not long term life.
  • Understands that interdependence and collaboration are essential to accomplish the purpose and mission in any organization.
  • Energetically collaborates inside so we can successfully compete outside.
  • Understands that if we accomplish mission, we make a lot of money.
4.  Understands collaboration must have a business purpose.
  • Is a pragmatist. . . you can’t get good results if you can’t collaborate.
  • Demonstrates positive regard for collaboration because of successful experiences.
  • Has gained personal maturity and new insights.
  • Believes collaboration, cooperation and interdependence are a business and cultural necessity.
  • Knows that collaboration is hard work, harder than command and control and is not the slow, soft side of management.  Instead, they require courage, commitment and sometimes conflict, as disagreement to differentiate the nature of a problem or a solution.
  • Understands the two parts of purpose-driven collaboration as a means to and end a) to reach better decisions and to implement them better or b) to get the right answer and to get it executed.
  • Believes that the reasons for collaborating are to accomplish something; to solve a problem; to get something done.
  • Understands that results are the reason to collaborate.
5.  Thinks “outside of the pyramid” in order to share power and spread leadership, authority and responsibility throughout the organization.
  • Balances the present reality with movement toward the future reality and ponders the future shape and structure of the organization.
  • Envisions a new structure, an internal network of creative people collaborating on issues that require more learning, entrepreneurial, creative and innovative action which produces individual and organizational growth and change, new competencies, disciplined people, thought and action, and a new network of influence, power and learning that augments the hierarchy.
  • Has the skill and judgment (intuition and instinct) to know how and when to unify and orchestrate the network and hierarchy.
  • Is fluid in the situation and fluid in the decisions being made.
6.  Believes teaching and leadership have a great deal in common.
  • Is both a teacher and a leader a) which is accomplished by asking hard questions and stimulating learning in search of reality and truth b) which leads to setting right course and creating right strategy in a disciplined, deliberate and intentional manner.
  • Knows a master teacher must be a master learner who listens, is observant and curious and who admits not having all the answers, is open to learning and somewhat vulnerable.
  • Encourages learning through coaching.
  • Learns in the real world rather than intellectualizing.
7.  Understands that at the center of collaboration is a personal comfort with and valuing of diversity of people, ideas and ways of thinking.
  • Understands this requires a level of individual and organizational cultural competence.
  • Allows people to learn, grow and trust by spending time listening and getting to know one another in ad hoc collaborative community, a powerful concept, a network of collaborative leadership.
  • Is culturally competent and comfortable with diversity of ideas and people, gender, ethnicity, race and nationality.
  • Believes diversity is an enormously strengthening factor…..getting the right people and right balance.
  • Understands that comfort and trust gives more potential for people of diversity to learn.
8.  Believes that the challenge of leading change is not about leadership in control, but leadership in balance.
  • Believes that collaboration is a means to leadership in balance.
  • Believes that a collaborative leader is an integrated person, not a user of techniques or adopter of styles.
  • Is comfortable with ambiguity and change, with giving direction and making decisions.
  • Blends the use of data with good judgment and oftentimes intuition, instincts and wisdom to skillfully balance the forces of competition (bottom-line driven) with collaboration (purpose-driven), teaching (knowing and challenging) with learning (curious and reflecting), the hierarchy (dependence) with the network (interdependence) to meet the challenges (complex or linear) and changes (transformational or incremental) needed to accomplish leadership challenge at hand.

If you have any questions or need more information about this article, please complete our Contact Form, or contact Dr. Gravett by telephone at 513-753-8870.

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