Leadership is the entrance, essence and extent of an organization. Given that paramount significance, leadership is definitely the most discussed, valued and misunderstood topic within the area of human resources. For the purposes of clarification, leadership is defined as the process by which a person inspires or influences another person to achieve a goal that he/she would otherwise not have achieved. From that definition, it is important that leadership skills are measured properly in order to create a legitimate foundation upon which improvement can be planned, coached and monitored.
Leadership model. The concept of leadership is riddled with numerous models that cause more confusion than clarity.
In contrast, a simplified leadership model consists of four components: Leadership behaviors, Emotion, Anticipation and Decision-making (LEAD).
Each component consists of survey items evaluated on a 9-point rating scale with one being low and nine being high; with each component represented by the average score given to its items.
Leadership behaviors. Empirical research has consistently shown that leadership behaviors can be classified into two independent performance dimensions – results and relationships.
The results dimension pertains to behaviors that are outcome-based, goal-driven and production-oriented.
The relationships dimension represents those behaviors that are concerned with treating people with respect, emphasizing consideration for their well-being, and earning trust.
Results-oriented behaviors include the following:
- Consistently accomplishes high-quality work on time
- Can be counted on to exceed performance goals
- Is bottom-line oriented
- Defines success only in terms of attaining the desired outcome
Relationship-oriented behaviors include the following:
- Shows respect, empathy, and care for employees
- Demonstrates active listening skills when hearing an employee’s personal problems
- Treats employees as people rather than workers
- Builds rapport, seeks to garner trust, and encourages collaboration
Emotion. Effective leaders consistently establish an emotional connection with their employees to catalyze growth, change and success. They operate systematically from a position of inspiration, not delegation. Underscored by mature emotion, leaders motivate others by conveying a true sense of sincerity, demonstrating personal charisma, and manifesting authentic enthusiasm.
Behaviors demonstrating the proper use of emotion include the following:
- Maintains an optimistic view that an event, problem, or challenge will result in success
- Uses sincere passion for generating enthusiasm in every assignment
- Communicates confidence in self and others verbally and non-verbally
- Brings out the potential in others by tapping into their emotional connection
Anticipation. Effective leaders must also show a keen ability to anticipate unforeseen events. This clairvoyance is necessary to accurately define the desired path, identify events that others would not expect, and take pre-emptive action to minimize distraction from accomplishing the goal.
Behaviors demonstrating proper anticipation include the following:
- Knows the “business” the organization is involved in
- Is part of overlapping social or professional networks that share relevant industry information
- Possesses a systems approach (e.g., Balanced Scorecard, strategic plan, change management)
- Studies and benchmarks trends (e.g., competition, legislation, technology)
- Consistently thinks nine to 12 months into the future (e.g., business cycle, calendar, budget)
Decision-Making. Effective leaders make value-maximizing decisions within specified constraints. Stated succinctly, a person who makes inaccurate decisions cannot be an effective leader. This standard applies to all decision-making scenarios regardless of size, scope, or significance.
Proper decision-making behaviors include the following:
- Makes sound decisions with limited information, short timelines, and performance pressure
- Solicits information from diverse sources before developing decision alternatives
- Considers organizational values, strategic plan, and business ethics prior to making a decision
- Defines the root cause of a problem correctly before making a decision
Evaluation process. The reader should evaluate each of the above-mentioned items using the one to nine scale and then calculate an average score on each of the five areas, from three different evaluation perspectives: Evaluating yourself as a leader, evaluating your immediate supervisor and attempting to evaluate yourself from your subordinates’ view point.
From that process, analysis can be determined to define leadership strengths, weaknesses, development plan items and organizational patterns.
Steve Cesare is an industrial psychologist with the Harvest Group, a landscape consulting group. www.harvestlandscapeconsulting.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.