Leadership is……

I was recently on a programme about leadership being run by Robert Dilts and Pilar Godino, where they defined leadeshp as:

The capability to express a vision, influence others to achieve results, encourage team cooperation and be an example.

I reflected on these four elements and thought about to what degree I observe them being put into practice effectively within organisations.

The capability to express a vision

I think this one ranks 3rd out of the 4 in terms of how well it is put into practice. Why?  Because some leaders and organisations tend to overcomplicate the process, and use more left brain logic than soul and emotion in expressing their vision.  THe most powerful visions touch you emotionally, and answer the question “what do you want to create in the world through you that is beyond you/”.  When I interviewed the women for Secrets of Successful Successful women entrepreneurs, several of them were expressed their vision with clarity and emotion. Linda Bennett of LK Bennett talked about designing shoes that she would like to wear herself that were feminine and elegant yet quirky and fun    Marilyn Orcharton, founder of Denplan, which was the UK’s leading healthcare scheme, wanted to create a system where dentists get paid for keeping their pateients healthy.  And Helen Swaby founder of De Montfort Fine Art, wanted to provide conteporary yet accesible images for everyone. Each of these are Simple, and of few words, yet powerful in the emotions they convey.  So keep it simple and make sure it comes from the heart.

The ability to influence others to achieve results

This gets my vote as the no1 aspect of leadership that organisations do well. The influencing is often done through rewarding results, offering bonuses, and a host of other performance management measures. Set clear outcomes and empower your people to work torwards the goals and results can be delivered, whilst enabling people to express themselves and be recognised for the value they bring to a business.

Encouraging Team Cooperation

This is no 2 on my list of what I observe in organisations. When the vision  is compelling enough, people can come together to cooperate.  Watch any Formula 1 race team, or Premier League football team to see this in action.  However the bar has raised these days and its not just about cooperating, the new buzzword ts collaborating.  Collaboration is more of a philosophy, which suggests a way of dealing with people which respects and highlights individual group members’ abilities and contributions. There is a sharing of authority and acceptance of responsibility among group members for the groups actions. Cooperation tends to be more focused on the output and the process of working together to achieve it. Often it is more focused on the leader – employee relationship, rather than the sharing of authority.  Worth thinking more about what these words actually mean in practice and what you might observe if you watched a team cooperate or collaborate?

Being an example

How easy to say “be an example” and how difficult to accomplish, so its the lowest on my ranking of these four facets of leadership  Exemplary leadership is hard to find in many organisations, and I can think of many more examples of poor leadership in terms of “walking the talk” that I come across than the other way around. . To be an example, you have to think about followership, and why would people want to follow you?  What is it that you DO, not SAY, to inspire others. One of the actions that I use constantly as a yardstick of this is how other people respond to communications.  Do they ignore a message for days and then finally get back to you and say “oh I was really busy”, or do they respond with a quick update note, and promise a fuller response later.   When I come across leaders doing the former, what they are really saying to me is “you don’t matter” and I want to ask them if they treat everyone like that or just some people.  Generally if I am coaching a leader who behaves like this, when we explore it in more detail its a consistent behaviour with everyone.



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