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Leadership Point of View – A Framework

Alcide DeGagné

Early in my career, I had the good fortune to work for an executive who studied and intuitively understood his own value system, his core personality, and how these things strengthened his own leadership potential.

And to this day I remember one particular morning when he gave me a real window into his leadership point of view and how he influenced his direct reports, when he said to me, “You’re a System 4 Manager”. Of course, I needed to go research what the heck was a System 4 Manager

We have so many conversations in which we try to exercise influence, but in the end both parties walk away saying, “what colour is the sky in their world?” There is a more effective way to approach these things.

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Our Influence Relationships

Anyone who is exercising a position of influence has a leadership task – a task that needs to be understood from several different perspectives.

However, to exercise influence effectively, we must each understand our own history. And, it follows naturally, how that history gets expressed is at the core of all our relationships.

There are a number of influence relationships that we all conduct:

One-on-One

How does the person behave in his or her relationship when dealing with one other person?

Within a Team

How is the person’s influence behaviour expressed in a team setting – regardless of whether he or she is the team leader or not?

The Organization

How is the person’s influence behaviour expressed at an inter-team level?

Alliances

How is the person’s influence behaviour expressed at an intra-organizational level?

Why me?

In the abstract, we tend to express our personal history in the form of values and beliefs that we were taught from our earliest years. Then, with time, this gradually expands through training and various life experiences. We all hold our own unique values and beliefs, but it doesn’t particularly help to explain such questions as, “What am I aiming to accomplish?” or “Why me? Why now?”

Telescope smTo answer these questions, we need to have a leadership point of view that we can share with those we hope to influence.

Why? Because by explaining where we are coming from – in terms that reflect our deeply held beliefs – it is much more likely that others will be willing to follow us. Explaining our point of view through experiences that we have lived enables us to connect with them in an authentic way that a summary of abstract values or beliefs will never provide.

Learning Events

Here are some steps that you can take to develop your own leadership point of view. Keep in mind that what you want is a succinct point of view that you can share both verbally and in writing that ‘speaks’ to the learning events in your life that influenced the direction of your life. These events can be positive or negative, but they must have had an influence on where you find yourself today.

The first step is to let your mind wander on those big events in your life that taught you something profound while interacting with a parent, an older brother or sister, a teacher, a coach, a boss, etc.

Next, start jotting down notes about the event itself and why it made an impression on you. Don’t rush this process, as it should take you at least 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Some items to consider:

  • The personal attributes and habits of leaders you consider to be good role models.
  • The leadership processes and practices you have experienced that empowered others.
  • An assessment of past leadership roles in which you felt effective.
  • A list of your own personality traits, and how you might use them as strengths.

Your Individual Vision Statement

So far in this process you have considered your personal values and beliefs, the events that have shaped your development, and the experiences that you have had with other leaders. Now it is time to create your Individual Vision Statement.

Keep it short – under two pages if possible. Concise statements force you to clarify your thinking and avoid rambling, unfocused wanderings. And be mindful that leadership behaviour will only be seen as authentic when it is consistent with your personal attributes.

A useful outline for your Individual Vision Statement:

1. I am a leader who…

List the most important value elements of your mission as a leader/influencer as you see them. Recall that the value elements should be drawn directly from your own experiences. This will allow you to share your leadership point of view by explaining the importance of the principles that guide you, and by sharing the stories and experiences that helped shape these principles.

2. I make the following differences in the lives of my work colleagues…

List ideas that come naturally to you in response to this statement, reflecting both one-on-one and team relationships. These statements could reflect the goals you believe are important to you, your work colleagues, and the team you are a part of.

3. I make the following differences in my organization…

List those attributes that you wish to see implanted in the organization through your leadership. Think about how the goals and activities of the broader organization affect you and your team, and, in turn, how you can have a positive impact on them.

After completing a draft of your vision statement, let it sit for a few days. Then, after you have had some time to reconsider your thoughts and edit your statements, meet with your direct reports and review the draft documents. Solicit their feedback and welcome suggestions for improvement.

After completing this exercise, you – and the people you work with – will have a much better understanding of your own “leadership point of view”.


Photo Credit: Richard McSundy via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Richard McSundy via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Richard McSundy via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight cc

Comments

Reat post Alcide! One of the most important contributions to organizational health and human action of recent years as been adult ego development theory proposed by Lovinger/ Cook-Greuter and by assocation, Tobert’s actions logics. These theories identify distinct stages that individuals obtain through life-situations and cognitive development.

Cook-Greuter’s LDP focuses mainly on how language-use (in sentence-completion tests) indicates cognitive development through single, double, and triple-loop reflexivity, increasing differentiation and complexification of conceptual objects, increasing integration of polarities, and increasing awareness and transparency of fundamental constructs such as “self”, “mind”, and “time.”

Torbert’s Action-Inquiry places developmental concepts in an organizational-leadership framework to describe action-logics which develop more sophisticated ways to engage collective inquiry and action. Organizations which incorporate these models into their management, leadership or performance training programs, typically are more creative, dynamic and adaptive in their decision-making processes, and achieve a greater capacity for designing solutions to complex issues.

As their names suggest, these models are foremost models of people and the ways they engage each other. The benefits to any organization are obvious, with respect to capacity-building of internal human resources.

In my opinion, a human-centric approach to organizational developmental theory towards an actor-network oriented way of thinking can be progressive steps. Such can be made possible by exploring new ways of thinking about subjects, objects, actors and organizations.

More here (http://pipracticedesign.wordpress.com/the-five-generative-processes/) if you are interested in diving further into this conception-aware, object-orientation approach to performance inquiry.

 

By Jean Trudel on 2014/09/26

Thank you Jean for an excellent exposé of recent current research on this subject. Of course my blog targets the busy leader who probably only has time to read brief paper (under 1,000 words) to remind them that their own character core is the vital foundation of how of they influence; that being the case, why not share and discuss, rather than require work colleagues to guess what are the leader’s expectations? For those readers, I want to especially thank you for the Torbert’s Action-Inquiry reference that highlights the need to engage in “collective inquiry and action”. That clearly is the goal of developing a “Leadership Point of View”. In my next blog I plan to take that further by illustrating how a leaders “vision statement” becomes a simple yet powerful vehicle to engage a team or teams (network) in a vision sharing process that sharpens strategic focus and enhances collaboration.

By Alcide on 2014/09/26

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Posted by Alcide DeGagné
Posted on September 15, 2014
2 Comments

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Categories: hr & talent management, knowledge transfer, leadership, lessons learned, management