Archive | September, 2015

Leadership Distilled – part 2

In an earlier post I had elaborated on the CQ model and Gallup’s four buckets of leadership strengths and used that to derive a framework for leadership skills.

To recap,  the four buckets are

  1. Hand / Executing themes
  2. Heart/ Relationship building themes
  3. Head/ Strategic thinking themes
  4. Voice/ Influencing themes

Its also instructive to note that typically having a task focus necessitates trade-offs with having a people focus and these are at loggerheads with each other. If you really want to accomplish a task, you’ll probably not hesitate in brushing against a few team members; similarly if you are too sensitive to people issues, you might not be that able to drive them to accomplish results.

In a similar vein, its easy to see how having a Strategic thinking focus may be at loggerheads with having a Influencing focus. Influence, at most times, is due to creating the right culture in the organization and everyone knows the adversarial relationship of culture to strategy when thinking about leadership (think ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast!’).

Leadership is all about making the right trade offs and finding one’s own unique style and strength of operation.

I recently came across Michigan Model of Leadership (MMoL) and it as heartening to note the convergence between it and my earlier formulation derived from Gallup/ CQ. To quote,

Our research shows that the most effective leaders (1) are empathetic and committed to seeing the world through others’ eyes; (2) are driven and routinely stretch to achieve challenging goals; (3) have integrity and are committed to doing the right thing even if it is not the popular thing; and finally (4) are courageous and consider risk and failure to be necessary ingredients for innovation. These values form a strong foundation for action and serve as guideposts for leaders as they work to make a positive difference in the world.


Its easy to note there that Empathy maps to Heart, Drive maps to Hands, Integrity to Head and Courage to Voice. Further,

Robust Results (blue) represents the actions that leaders engage in to foster competition, perform under pressure, and deliver short-term results. This archetype is often in direct tension with Collaborative Communities (yellow), which represents the actions involved in building high-quality relationships, empowering people, and cultivating trust and cohesion within teams. In many organisations, competition and an emphasis on short-term performance undermine collaboration and the importance of community. Yet, in other organisations, too much of an emphasis on harmony within the community produces a happy yet under-performing culture where people are unwilling to challenge each other in service of achieving higher performance.

Strategic Structures (red) represents the actions that leaders engage in to establish accountability, ensure reliable processes, and optimize efficiency. This archetype is often in direct contrast with Creative Change (green), which represents the actions required to enable change, inspire innovation and co-create new opportunities. In many organisations, an over-emphasis on structure and process can root out innovation, but at the same time, too much emphasis on innovation and change can produce inefficiencies or even organisational chaos that keeps the organisation from implementing new ideas.

Thus, Combining all the evidence above, I propose the following schemata:

  1. Hands/ Task Focus- a focus on results and action; Behavioral in nature as per ABCD model of Psychology.
  2. Heart / People Focus – a focus on collaboration and relationships-  Affect or emotion driven as per ABCD
  3. Head/ Strategic Focus – a focus on structure and thinking – Cognitive as per ABCD
  4. Voice/ Cultural Focus- a focus on creativity/ engagement and influence- Dynamics/ motivational in focus as per ABCD.

Its also easy for me to see how a leader progresses in his journey towards greater impact by focusing on different focuses at each subsequent level of leadership. impact.

For example, a someone who is a good supervisor/ boss is predominantly at a Hands focus- focused on getting things done; a good manager on the other hand is really focused on his people- identifying their strengths and making them flourish in their roles; an executive however is more focused on getting the vision and strategy for the organization right; while a good leader IMHO is focused most intently on creating the right culture- everything else them follows.

Do let me know if this resonates with you and do contemplate whether you are at the level of a boss, manager, executive or a real leader!