The Intangibles of Leadership – The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance
As an Organisational Psychologist, Davis is routinely exposed to executives at all levels and so is uniquely placed to be able to identify which characteristics and behaviours result a superior leadership performance.
Davis’ conclusion from his years of research and experience is that there are 10 ‘intangibles‘ or characteristics that are the result of an individual’s underlying values and psychological mechanisms. He suggests that, although intelligence, training and experience are important, it is these 10 characteristics that lead to some leaders, not only succeeding, but thriving.
Each ‘intangible’ is discussed in its own chapter, with case studies to illustrate and highlight the importance and relevance of each characteristic.
Each chapter is also structured in a standard format asking and answering some fundamental questions for each ‘intangible’:
- What is it?
- How do I know it when I see it?
- How do I get it?
This style not only makes the information easier to absorb, but it also provides a practical approach that an executive can use to develop each quality themselves.
The 10 ‘intangibles’ are:
- Wisdom – Experience borne of involvement in business, tempered by reflection and by putting each experience into context.
- Will – The act of getting things done by purely applying oneself to the task diligently and consistently.
- Executive Maturity – Having sufficient self control and awareness to control your emotional reaction to an event and the ability to evoke emotions in others for positive influence.
- Integrity – Having a value system that is moral and consistently and visibly holding yourself to that value system.
- Social Judgement – Having emotional awareness and intelligence and understanding people as a means to leading them.
- Presence – A gravitas that allows you to be recognized.
- Self-Insight – Recognition of what it is that drives you and the impact you have on others is a key way to improve what you do and how you do it.
- Self-Efficacy – A self belief that you can make a difference and control events to get things done.
- Fortitude – The internal strength that you confront challenges with.
- Fallibility – An understanding that you are going to get things wrong but will still attempt the difficult tasks.
For anyone that is well read in the Leadership field, many of these characteristics will be familiar. What Davis has achieved in this book is to present each characteristic in a clear and easily accessible manner so that an executive or aspiring leader can indentify ‘the differences that make THE difference’. He has essentially made these ‘intangibles’ tangible and provided an action plan for leaders to develop the characteristics that can improve both their individual career and the performance of the organisations they are leading.
A valuable addition to any library on leadership.
For those who are interested in the coaching aspects of Business Performance Improvement or are coaches themselves, you may find my blog on coaching interesting.
The Coach’s Casebook looks at the application of coaching, case studies to consider and how coaching can be used to the benefit of both individual and business performance.
I hope you find it a useful resource.
Dare to Aspire
Productivity is an interesting word. It describes, in broad terms, the pace at which you generate output. As an worker, business owner, even a student, productivity is important.
Having an system that allows you to create your output more effectively more means that you can free up time. Time you can spend on play, hobbies or even just more output.
Here are 7 productivity tips to help you achieve more:
- Focus on what is important. Activity isn’t progress unless it is activity towards your vision. It is your goals that allow you to identify and select your priorities. Select tasks that move you towards those goals.
- Stop Multi-tasking. Select your top priority task and work on it until it is complete or until you reach a point where you cannot continue because of external dependencies. Then work on the next priority. A person with 10 priorities has no priorities so avoid having a task list that is too long.
- Avoid Distractions. Learn to focus on just one thing at a time. Distractions divide your effort and it often takes some time to re-engage with your original task. For example, Avoid checking email as soon as it hits you inbox. Just finish the task at hand and check email at a scheduled time
- Break Projects Into Several Tasks. Projects are often very large and take a long time to complete. By splitting large projects into a series of tasks, you remove the perception that the task is unmanageable. You also see individual tasks for their value to the overall project, those which matter and those which can be discarded. You can then also then apply tip 1 and focus on what really matters.
- Batch Similar Tasks Together. Routine is a significant waste of effort, particularly if you have to repeat something which requires time and effort to prepare. Prepare once and then repeat the process for all tasks of a similar type.
- Do Something Positive. Sometimes, it is difficult to get started on a big task of you find yourself blocked by a limitation of self belief or motivation. Just take some positive action. Anything that moves you forward is good and the very act of doing something can often free up the motivation and creativity you need to progress.
- Sharpen the Saw. Dr Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ has ‘Sharpen the Saw’ as habit 7. It is the habit of self renewal. Take time for yourself to recharge your batteries, reenergize your motivation for your vision and then get back to the tasks at hand.
By committing to applying these few tips in your daily activity, you will develop behaviours that lead to increased productivity. As with most things in life, it is the simple things that are often the most profound and most effective.
Dare to Aspire
Braincram has a new summary of the book ‘Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done’ by Larry Bossidy et al.
You can find it here.
Dare to Aspire
Braincram has a new summary of the Marshall Goldsmith book Mojo.
You can find it here.
Dare to Aspire
Individual and Team performance can be elusive.
Just when you have achieved a level of performance that you want, the environment changes, resources are taken away or members of the team are replaced.
It is a combination of knowledge, skills and attitude that creates individual and team behaviour. Improving performance therefore requires us to change that behaviour
Training is a excellent way to re-establish a high level of performance, but it needs to be training focused at achieving specific individual and business needs.
Performance then, is where knowledge, skills and attitude align to the business needs. So any training plan needs to be focused on ensuring that an individual’s knowledge and skills are developed to align to that business need and people motivated to having a supportive attitude.
To establish the necessary training for the individual and teams a level of Training Needs Analysis is needed. This ensures the maximum level of training is achieved for minimum financial outlay.
Here is a checklist that will help you consider the training needs of your team and help you construct a training programme that will help you re-establish the performance levels you need to have your team thrive.
1. The Training Need:
- Who needs it?
- What is the business area that the training will support?
- Is the skill or knowledge lacking on the team or just in this individual?
2. The Audience:
- Who is the audience for the training?
- What is their knowledge of the topic?
- What are their duties?
- What are they expecting?
- Are there any motivational problems to be expected?
- What is the cultural behaviour for the target group?
3. Course Content:
- Are there any regulatory parts to teach?
- Is there a CIPD or other professional body to consider?
- What are the possible resources?
- Are there policies and procedures to teach?
- Are case studies of value?
- Will it be an internal course?
- Who will teach?
- Will you outsource?
- When is the training opportunity?
- Start Dates?
- Length of course?
- Frequency of the training?
6. Business Needs:
- What is the business need?
- What is the business strategic aim?
- What are the organizational future plans?
- How much training is enough?
7. Anticipated Problems:
- Budgetary limits
- Availability of the learning team
- What resources do you need?
While this is not a formally structured Training Needs Analysis profile, it provides a useful list of considerations that will help you understand your training needs and so allow your to decide on where to spend training effort to achieve a higher level of performance.
Dare to Aspire
If you have a large organisation or wish to undertake a number of change projects it is prudent to consider running a pilot change project. A short change event that is aligned to the larger strategic goal but small enough to be an initial excursion into the overall change programme without being fully committed.
This will allow you to:
- Gather feedback on how change will be accepted within the organisation
- Assess if the culture will accept and integrate the change
- Establish credibility with a ‘quick win’
- Ensure that there is appetite for further change.
When running a pilot change project, it is useful to have a simple but robust plan of what you are going to do, who will do it and how you will sell it to the significant stakeholders.
Here is a checklist of things that you may want to consider.
- What is the right mix of people for the change team – What knowledge and skill will you require and who has the sort of tenacious attitude to carry the project to a fast and successful completion.
- Who has the credibility, the knowledge and the drive to lead the project? Is this someone in your own organisation or is a consultant a better choice. A member of your team will know the processes, procedures and people within the team which could be an advantage but exposes them if the event fails. A consultant has a fresh view, will have the skills to implement the change and can be the scape goat who takes the blame if things go wrong of the culture resists the change.
- What is the aim of the project? What does ‘a good job look like’? Have a clear idea of the success criteria and ensure it is communicated to the team so there is a shared understanding of the outcomes.
- What are the achievable stretch goals? Is there more that can be delivered than just the basic project?
- What are the achievable deadlines? Is it better to have a successful project delivered a little late or to have a project delivered on time but without the ‘bells and whistles’.
- What project methodology will you use? Is an agile approach like DSDM useful or do you need to use something with more governance such as Prince 2?
- When you run into uncertainty, what framework will you use to guide team decision making and problem solving? Do you want to formalise the approach to provide rigour and an audit trail or is flexibility more important?
- What resources are necessary for success? Allocation of resources is critical both for delivery of the outcomes you desire and to demonstrate that senior management are committed to the change event.
- How will you hold people accountable? With accountability comes a degree of commitment and a mechanism to allocate both blame and rewards for performance.
- How will you reward success? Team or individually? Based on effort or outcomes? As a result of success alone or of benefit for the organisation as even a failed change programme can be beneficial? Understanding what motivates your team, and the rewards that create that motivation will help you achieve the best from your team.
With this short checklist you can begin to plan the change event. There are, however, a number of things to consider.
Beware planning in too much detail as things will often change and planning too early means you ‘plan twice’. Detailed planning can also become reassuring even if there is no progress but it will not move your towards our outcomes. Activity isn’t progress.
Beware predictable surprises which you can identify with a little forethought.
Changes will often generate second order problems (problems that you hadn’t initially identified but arise because of the influence the change has over the system). Be prepared to deal with these and ensure you have a level of contingency because such problems use up your time, effort and resources.
It is tempting to believe that you are so familiar with your organisation that research isn’t required but this isn’t always the case. Indeed, it is rarely the case and you should understand where you have limited knowledge.
Your change initiative may cross organisational boundaries.You will need a way to access different knowledge silos within those organisational stovepipes.
Finally, the culture of the organisation has developed over years and will be deeply rooted. The change will need to overcome this cultural resistance and offer the same reassurance that the old state did.
To gain best value and quick wins, you may want to consider change as guerrilla warfare. You will need to carefully select your key points of leverage and get maximum value for minimum effort.
Dare to Aspire