Many readers of management literature look for sweeping insights into the nature of leadership. Surely leadership is about having a vision, being able to be strategically agile, effectively communicating ideas, and building value-added relationships. All of these, however, are accomplished through the daily micro interactions of those in leadership roles. Your leadership legacy is tied to your daily behavior -- these behaviors are essentially deposits in your leader legacy account.
Rather than worry at the moment about the next strategic marketing advantage -- though this is very important -- I encourage you to think about your daily investment in leadership, which begins with understanding your motive, means, and opportunity to be a leader.
Motives, Means, OpportunityFor our purposes, motive refers to the desire, the energy, the emotional commitment to act. Means refers to the skill in being able to effectively utilize your "tool set" to lead others. Opportunity is the moment of action when a situation emerges that allows motive and means to join for initiative and execution of leadership behaviors. Motive You have to want to promote commitment rather than rely on compliance to move toward leadership. Far too often managers mix the purpose of the roles-one is to insist on compliance so that resources are efficiently managed, while the other is focused on commitment for overall effectiveness. These are not necessarily opposing roles, though these are very different roles. The first step toward clarifying your motive is sharing with those on whom you depend to get the work done. They need to know context, specifics, reasons, and how they can play a part (which means they feel you have listened). Motive is evident in your emotional energy which also reflects how important you feel something is. If you feel that team building is critical to business success, does your behavior reflect that value? If you feel that effective use of conflict in the workplace is important to performance, does your behavior reflect this commitment? Do you show interest in the dreams and aspirations of others so they feel that their needs are part of the whole plan? Your motive is revealed in your intentions which are expressed in your behavior. Your behavior is also an expression of your range of capability as a leader. If you never ask about how others feel, then they not only assume you aren't interested, they may assume you don't know how to ask. If you insist on issuing declarations in meetings rather than facilitating discussions, they may assume that you simply don't possess facilitation skills. If you don't, you need to learn them. Means Seeking feedback on how others experience you is a great way to learn how others view your capability as a leader. In a sense, this is an assessment of your "means" as a leader. Do you have the "tools" to pull it off? Leaders need to master a range of behaviors in these areas: managing complexity and change, building and mending relationships, utilizing expertise, decisiveness, self-management, communication, adaptability, and learning. These capacities represent the means by which you become an effective leader. If you haven't developed these, then you aren't able to be as effective as possible when the opportunities arrive. You limit your choices in being effective because you have reduced your means. Being relentless about learning how to use "best practices" and how your behavior impacts others are essential to enriching your means as a leader. Opportunity Opportunity is always in front of you. Question is: can you see it? Each of the following identifies an opportunity to show leadership: * When there is conflict among managers or associates, do you see the opportunity to learn and help others learn how to management discontent in more effective ways? * When an employee comes to you with a problem, do you see the opportunity to facilitate helping the employee learn how to problem solve? * When a customer expresses dissatisfaction do you see this as an opportunity to find out what may be wrong within the various systems of your organization? * When someone "pushes your hot buttons" do you use this as an opportunity to do some self-assessment about what this says about you and how you can turn that energy into productive responses? These are the daily challenges of leadership-helping individuals learn, maximize their potential, and helping the organization improve-that contribute a good deal to the long term viability of an organization. Motive-your investment of energy; means-your effective use of behavior; opportunity-your leveraging both motive and means to enrich the organization make up the daily ingredients of leadership effectiveness.