Archives For Leadership

Leadership Theories

January 20, 2018 — Leave a comment

Leadership has been around since the beginning of the human species. In the bible it’s Adam and Eve, but we ask ourselves, who was the real leader in the Garden of Eden? Adam for following the guidelines, or Eve for taking the risk at a possible better future, even after severe warnings from the top leader. Whenever two or more people get together, eventually someone emerges as the leader, but why? I believe that leadership does start from within, we all have a motive for wanting to lead others. But we need to lead ourselves first, in order to lead others better.

The basic leadership process, as defined in The Leadership Experience by Richard L. Draft, is “an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes.” If we dig into that statement deeper, we can understand why on average, only about 30 percent of workers are engaged at work. The leader doesn’t take the energy required to develop relationships in order to find a shared purpose with their employees, so they use more authoritarian styles of leadership. Did you ever have someone tell you that you had to do something because “they signed your paycheck,” and for some that may be enough.

The understanding of different types of leadership has expanded drastically in just the past century. Before the preindustrial and pre-bureaucratic era was the Great Man Theory. Only men were viewed as great leaders, they held the positions of power so they were viewed as the leaders. Of course there are always those outliers, we can all think of great woman leaders in history, but most where born into those leadership roles.

During the 1920’s, Leadership Trait Theory research started to look at what traits leaders consistently have that separates them from non-leaders and contributed the most to their success?  Leadership traits could be identified, but the researchers wanted to be able to predict leaders, or train individuals in those specific traits. The research couldn’t consistently identify specific traits between successful leaders, so ultimately the research failed. Traits alone do not make a great leader.

In the 1950’s researchers started to look at what leaders did, not who they are. Leadership Behavior Theory looked at the behavior of effective leaders to ineffective leaders, and how they behaved toward followers. The research showed that behaviors could be learned and practiced, even if it was unnatural for them, but with any type of behavior changes, we can always resort back to the more unproductive behavior or habit.

A personal insight for me, since I’ve been training leaders for over twenty years I see how some leaders adopt the appropriate leadership behaviors, but eventually resort back to more unproductive behaviors. Often I’ve wondered what I did wrong, why didn’t the training stick? I was even called into a Directors office once and asked what I’ve been teaching in the leadership classes because someone who went through a number of classes in the past, was struggling again as a leader. My answer was that when a leader adopts positive leadership behaviors they may resort back to their more natural leadership style, unless the positive behavior is consistently reinforced.

Leadership Contingency Theory looked at how leadership behaviors successfully impacted different situations, which is why it’s also called situational theory developed by Hersey and Blanchard (The Situational Leader). This theory emphasizes that leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum, different situations in different organizations with different people may take different leadership behaviors to reach a successful outcome.

Researchers didn’t start looking at Leadership Influence Theory until the early 1970’s, and continued to be the main focus until the early 1990’s. This was a period of economic globalization, when economic powerhouses started changing from large corporations to individual internet start-ups. The study of charismatic leadership showed that someone didn’t need a leadership position to influence others. Charismatic leaders influence people to change by effectively communicating an inspiring vision. Individuals started to look for more reason to work then a paycheck, what was their passion? The charismatic leader can cast the vision to get followers buy-in. The ability to lead others wasn’t dependent on someone’s position, but how you influence people. The team leadership concept emerged during this period and the individual with the most knowledge or influence in a specific area would take the lead.

“Leadership Is Influence, Nothing More, Nothing Less.”
~John C. Maxwell

Leadership Relational Theories started emerging in the late 1970’s, and focused on how leaders and followers interact and influence each other? Leadership is viewed as a relational process that engages all participants and enables them to help achieve the vision. Interpersonal relationships are seen as being the most important facet of leadership effectiveness. Two common leadership styles that emerged from relational theory is Servant Leadership and Transformational Leadership, both focus on building positive relationships to better influence others.

With the recent focus on relational leadership, the research turns toward the traits and behaviors of those individuals who build better relationships, and it’s generally woman, who some scholars claim to be better leaders. The Harvard Business Review article, Are Women Better Leaders than Men?” by Zenger and Folkman reported in a study they conducted on 7,280 leaders which showed that female leaders not only where more effective as leaders, but scored higher on 15 of the 16 leadership competencies.

What will emerge as the next leadership theory? If I was to guess, it would be self-leadership theory.  Currently if you Google “self-aware leadership” you’ll get close to 2,000 results, not many when you think about it, especially compared to “Servant Leadership” at almost 500,000 results. You influence others the way you’ve been influenced by others in the past, it’s a behavior that we develop, and sometimes it’s a negative behavior, and we need to ask ourselves why, what are we trying to protect?

I believe it comes down to satisfying our own ego, some leaders find pleasure when they succeed themselves, no problem with that as long as it’s not at the expense of others. Some find fulfillment in helping others succeed, they’ve already achieved the level of success they want and now their passion comes from helping others achieve their success. That would be called significance, when you’ve helped so many people achieve their own success that they value the relationship, and in turn will help you achieve your goals.  It reminds me of Zig Ziglar quote on how to achieve success, “Help enough people get what they want, and they’ll help you get what you want.”

 

We each begin life as an infant, totally dependent on others. We are directed, nurtured, and sustained by others. Without this nurturing, we would only live for a few hours or a few days at the most.

Then gradually, over the ensuing months and years, we become more and more independent—physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially—until eventually we can essentially take care of ourselves, becoming inner-directed and self-reliant.

As we continue to grow and mature, we become increasingly aware that all of nature is interdependent, that there is an ecological system that governs nature, including society. We further discover that the higher reaches of our nature have to do with our relationships with others—that human life also is interdependent.

Our growth from infancy to adulthood is in accordance with natural law. And there are many dimensions to growth. Reaching our full physical maturity, for example, does not necessarily assure us of simultaneous emotional or mental maturity. On the other hand, a person’s physical dependence does not mean that he or she is mentally or emotionally immature.

On the maturity continuum, dependence is the paradigm of you—you take care of me; you come through for me; you didn’t come through; I blame you for the results.

Independence is the paradigm of I—I can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose.

Interdependence is the paradigm of we—we can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.

Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.

~ Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

 

One, You’re Contagious

You’re creating a culture that is contagious. You’re setting the tone. You’re making it happen—or not. You are to celebrate for the success of your culture, or to blame for its failure. You—yes, you. How powerful is that? Whether you are the CEO, a supervisor, an employee, a janitor, or a parent, how your culture is right now is a result of how you’ve shown up, the decisions you and your team have made, your own personal relationship with accountability, and your willingness to create a life you love. Of course, if you are higher up in the organization, in an official leadership role, you have even more responsibility and opportunity to be contagious. Regardless of your position, you emanate the culture. The culture is you. This is great news because you’re contagious and you have impact.

~ Anese Cavanaugh, Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives

Tao gives birth to one.
One gives birth to two.
Two gives birth to three.
Three gives birth to all things and all beings.
All beings bear the negative physical form which is represented by Ying, and embrace the positive true nature which is represented by Yang.
With the union of these two, they arrive at a state of harmony.
Men dislike to be “the solitude,” “the unworthy,” and “the virtueless,”
Yet the Lords and nobles call themselves these names.
Hence, things are benefited by being humble, and damaged by profiting.
What the ancients had taught, I shall also teach as such:
A man of violence who is in disharmony between Ying and Yang that is the physical body and true self, shall die of an unnatural death.
This is the essential of my teaching.

~ Lau Tzu, Tao Te Ching

What It Takes.

As I said, you don’t have to be a genius to be a successful leader. What you need is a combination of qualities. In addition to good average intelligence, you need a strong drive, fairly robust health, deep and sustained interests, a willingness to work hard, a knack of getting along well with others, and worthy goals.

You need also to keep in mind the basic implications of leadership. For, remember, your responsibilities as a leader are always heavy.

~ James F. Bender, The Technique of Executive Leadership (1950)

To bridge the gap between onetime success and long-term effectiveness, you need to develop three skills in working with people. These skills are essential whether you’re a manager on the job, a parent in the home, or a teacher in the classroom.

  1. Understanding people’s past behavior.

Recognize why people did what they did, what motivated them, what evoked the behavior that helped or hindered the accomplishment of tasks.

  1. Predicting future behavior.

Understanding why people behaved in a certain way is not enough. You also need to be able to predict how they will behave in the future under the same conditions but in the rapidly changing environment of today’s world.

  1. Directing, changing, and controlling

Understanding past behavior and predicting future behavior are still not enough. You must also accept the responsibility for influencing the behavior of others in accomplishing tasks and reaching goals.

These are the three skills that determine whether leadership attempts will be successful or unsuccessful, effective or ineffective. Understanding what motivates people, predicting how they will behave in response to your leadership attempts, and directing their behavior are all necessary for effective leadership.

~ Dr. Paul Hersey, The Situational Leader (Page 19)

Leadership Theories

January 2, 2018 — Leave a comment

Leadership has been around since the beginning of the human species. In the bible it’s Adam and Eve, but we ask ourselves, who was the real leader in the Garden of Eden? Adam for following the guidelines, or Eve for taking the risk at a possible better future, even after severe warnings from the top leader. Whenever two or more people get together, eventually someone emerges as the leader, but why? I believe that leadership does start from within, we all have a motive for wanting to lead others. But we need to lead ourselves first, in order to lead others better.

The basic leadership process, as defined in The Leadership Experience by Richard L. Draft, is “an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes.” If we dig into that statement deeper, we can understand why on average, only about 30 percent of workers are engaged at work. The leader doesn’t take the energy required to develop relationships in order to find a shared purpose with their employees, so they use more authoritarian styles of leadership. Did you ever have someone tell you that you had to do something because “they signed your paycheck,” and for some that may be enough.

The understanding of different types of leadership has expanded drastically in just the past century. Before the preindustrial and pre-bureaucratic era was the Great Man Theory. Only men were viewed as great leaders, they held the positions of power so they were viewed as the leaders. Of course there are always those outliers, we can all think of great woman leaders in history, but most where born into those leadership roles.

During the 1920’s, Leadership Trait Theory research started to look at what traits leaders consistently have that separates them from non-leaders and contributed the most to their success?  Leadership traits could be identified, but the researchers wanted to be able to predict leaders, or train individuals in those specific traits. The research couldn’t consistently identify specific traits between successful leaders, so ultimately the research failed. Traits alone do not make a great leader.

In the 1950’s researchers started to look at what leaders did, not who they are. Leadership Behavior Theory looked at the behavior of effective leaders to ineffective leaders, and how they behaved toward followers. The research showed that behaviors could be learned and practiced, even if it was unnatural for them, but with any type of behavior changes, we can always resort back to the more unproductive behavior or habit.

A personal insight for me, since I’ve been training leaders for over twenty years I see how some leaders adopt the appropriate leadership behaviors, but eventually resort back to more unproductive behaviors. Often I’ve wondered what I did wrong, why didn’t the training stick? I was even called into a Directors office once and asked what I’ve been teaching in the leadership classes because someone who went through a number of classes in the past, was struggling again as a leader. My answer was that when a leader adopts positive leadership behaviors they may resort back to their more natural leadership style, unless the positive behavior is consistently reinforced.

Leadership Contingency Theory looked at how leadership behaviors successfully impacted different situations, which is why it’s also called situational theory developed by Hersey and Blanchard (The Situational Leader). This theory emphasizes that leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum, different situations in different organizations with different people may take different leadership behaviors to reach a successful outcome.

Researchers didn’t start looking at Leadership Influence Theory until the early 1970’s, and continued to be the main focus until the early 1990’s. This was a period of economic globalization, when economic powerhouses started changing from large corporations to individual internet start-ups. The study of charismatic leadership showed that someone didn’t need a leadership position to influence others. Charismatic leaders influence people to change by effectively communicating an inspiring vision. Individuals started to look for more reason to work then a paycheck, what was their passion? The charismatic leader can cast the vision to get followers buy-in. The ability to lead others wasn’t dependent on someone’s position, but how you influence people. The team leadership concept emerged during this period and the individual with the most knowledge or influence in a specific area would take the lead.

“Leadership Is Influence, Nothing More, Nothing Less.”
~ John C. Mawell

Leadership Relational Theories started emerging in the late 1970’s, and focused on how leaders and followers interact and influence each other? Leadership is viewed as a relational process that engages all participants and enables them to help achieve the vision. Interpersonal relationships are seen as being the most important facet of leadership effectiveness. Two common leadership styles that emerged from relational theory is Servant Leadership and Transformational Leadership, both focus on building positive relationships to better influence others.

With the recent focus on relational leadership, the research turns toward the traits and behaviors of those individuals who build better relationships, and it’s generally woman, who some scholars claim to be better leaders. The Harvard Business Review article, Are Women Better Leaders than Men?” by Zenger and Folkman reported in a study they conducted on 7,280 leaders which showed that female leaders not only where more effective as leaders, but scored higher on 15 of the 16 leadership competencies.

What will emerge as the next leadership theory? If I was to guess, it would be self-leadership theory.  Currently if you Google “self-aware leadership” you’ll get close to 2,000 results, not many when you think about it, especially compared to “Servant Leadership” at almost 500,000 results. You influence others the way you’ve been influenced by others in the past, it’s a behavior that we develop, and sometimes it’s a negative behavior, and we need to ask ourselves why, what are we trying to protect?

I believe it comes down to satisfying our own ego, some leaders find pleasure when they succeed themselves, no problem with that as long as it’s not at the expense of others. Some find fulfillment in helping others succeed, they’ve already achieved the level of success they want and now their passion comes from helping others achieve their success. That would be called significance, when you’ve helped so many people achieve their own success that they value the relationship, and in turn will help you achieve your goals.  It reminds me of Zig Ziglar quote on how to achieve success, “Help enough people get what they want, and they’ll help you get what you want.”

How do you plan to help others get what they want in 2018?.

 

References

The Leadership Experience by Richard L. Draft,

The Center for Leadership Studies, http://situational.com/the-cls-difference/situational-leadership-what-we-do/

Leadership-Central.com, http://www.leadership-central.com/leadership-theories.html#axzz52qy6nXpn

Are Women Better Leaders than Men? By Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, Harvard Business Review, March 15, 2012. https://hbr.org/2012/03/a-study-in-leadership-women-do

 

Geniuses Are Seldom Leaders.

If you can do that, you don’t have to be a genius to succeed as a leader. Here’s an amazing discovery: leaders don’t make the highest scores on intelligence tests. Dr. Leta S. Hollingworth studied child leaders for many years. She gave them intelligence tests and came to the conclusion: “Too much intelligence tends to disqualify a child for popular leadership. “ Dr. T. L. McCuen’s test results of adult leaders’ intelligence are similar. He finds that their intelligence is not of the highest rank in the group they lead. But it is usually above average.

To organize and lead others, the leader must have interests and understanding in common with his followers. If your abstract intelligence is to lofty, you are out of touch with ordinary minds. If your thought-ways resemble theirs, their faith in you is easier to cultivate and hold.

~ James F. Bender, The Technique of Executive Leadership (1950)

Leaders are obligated to provide and maintain momentum. Leadership comes with a lot of debts to the future. There are more immediate obligations as well. Momentum is one. Momentum in a vital company is palpable. It is not abstract or mysterious. It is the feeling among a group of people that their lives and work are intertwined and moving toward a recognizable and legitimate goals. It begins with competent leadership and a management team strongly dedicated to aggressive managerial development and opportunities. This team’s job is to provide an environment that allows momentum to gather.

~ Max DePree, Leadership is an Art

Keep Your Mind on the Main Thing                                       

What is your main thing? Unfortunately for some of us, the main thing is chosen by someone we work for.

What becomes even more troublesome is when your main thing is different from the bosses’ main thing.

Worse yet is when your bosses main thing changes with the passing hour, you can never focus on a project long enough to get finished.

John outlines a couple of decisions he’s made in order to keep himself more focused and productive;

  1. I determine not to know everything.
    • What happens when the boss needs to know everything before making a decision? The decision doesn’t get made, or it’s made too late and the company lost a valuable opportunity.
  2. I determined not to know everything first.
    • I don’t know if this is even possible, is it? How can you know everything first?
  3. I determined to let someone represent me.
    • Trust is the main factor here. Your reputation is one of the most valuable things a person has. Are you willing to let someone speak on your behalf if you don’t trust them?
  4. I determined to stay with my strengths and not work on my weaknesses.
    • Here is a tough task for any leader. I know it is for me. I either don’t want to ask other people or I just do it. Of course, if I do it then it can always be done better by someone else. Most of the time I just need to swallow the pride and reach for a hand.
  5. I determined to take charge of what took my time and attention.
    • What do you spend the most time on, do you even know?

John suggests that you keep track of how you spend your time. Once you see how your days break down and the amount of time you spend on unnecessary tasks, or ones that should be delegated, you’ll be able to focus more on the main thing.

I know I struggle to keep on the main thing, at home and at work. It comes down to priorities, doesn’t it? Some people will spend a Sunday watching football, working on their house, or volunteering at church. It’s what you value; recreation, your property, or others. But everything must be in balance, if you’re house is falling apart because all you do is watch television, then you may need to adjust your priorities.

What becomes a problem is when your MAIN THING isn’t one of your daily priorities. If nothing else, take time to think about it and what you can do tomorrow to get one step closer to your true purpose, which I hope, is your main thing!

~ John C. Maxwell, Leadership Gold