Leadership Distilled

Leadership (Nigeria)

Leadership (Nigeria) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traditionally two main functions or orientations of leaders have been task-orientation and people-orientation and even different large scale neural networks in the brain have been hypothesized to underlie these different focuses.

However if one takes a more closer look at the roles and responsibilities of a leader, they tend to fall into four distinct buckets.

The first bucket is related to what Gallup calls as strengths and talents in the  Strategic Thinking domain.  An apt metaphor for the same, as per Barbara’s Change Intelligence (CQ) model is Head. These abilities are intellectual and startegic in nature, concerned with understanding and shaping  the future and with defining a  vision that can inspire self and others. In transformational leadership context this would be the ability to create and define a vision. This too is task like in nature but more involves complex systemic thinking too rather than immediate task focus.

The second bucket of abilities lies in what Gallup calls the Influencing themes or domain. An apt metaphor, that I have come up for the same is Voice/Mouth. These abilities are the ability to inspire and motivate people, to influence large groups even though one may not have a direct control over them.  In transformational leadership context this would be an ability to motivate and inspire people to achieve that vision. This is similar to being centered on people, but is a different flavor as the emphasis is on not just connecting with people one-on-one, but to move and influence people and large collectives.

The third bucket of abilities are what Gallup calls Executing themes and talents. An apt metaphor, derived from CQ framework is that of Hand. These abilities include the ability to roll up the sleeves and lead from the front. In transformational leadership context, this includes delivering on the vision and managing the myriad problems that may come en route. This is the traditional task or production focus.

The fourth bucket of abilities are what Gallup calls Relationship building themes. An apt metaphor, derived again from CQ model is that of Heart. These abilities enable deep connection and concern with the team members and peers. In transformational leadership context, this includes the ability to coach and build a team to achieve the compelling vision. These are indeed the typical people abilities.

Its important to find out what your signature strengths are and to leverage them fully to achieve in all four domains.  Its also important to remember that strengths in any one domain can be used to achieve outcomes in any other domain, if used properly and intentionally (and which is where caches come handy).

Also remember, that much of leadership is situational:  there is a time to tell (head/vision) , a time to sell (voice/inspire) , a time to participate (hand/ execute) , and a time to delegate (heart/ trusting the team). Know your strengths and also the assess the situational needs to tailor your responses accordingly.

Everyone has a Head, a Voice, a Hand and a Heart- some may be more driven by Heart than by Head but a good leader knows what his unique strengths are and leverages them for the benefit and optimal functioning of the group.

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