A friend of mine, a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt, sent me this video yesterday. Amazing research that validates what we all know to be true: hard work matters. Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Angela studies non-IQ competencies that predict success both academically and professionally. Her research populations have included West Point cadets, National Spelling Bee finalists, novice teachers, salespeople, and students.
Archives For February 2011
As One is a beautiful book, but more on that later.
The world is growing smaller, and competition is being replaced by collaboration. One of the most difficult challenges for business leaders is getting their people to work productively together under a common purpose. To that end, Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley present an alternative to the two commonly held leadership styles: command-and-control and collaborative. Instead, the authors present eight major archetypes of leaders:
- Landlord & Tenants
- Community Organizer & Volunteer
- Conductor & Orchestra
- Producer & Creative Team
- General & Soldiers
- Architect & Builders
- Captain & Sports Team
- Senator & Citizens
In the interest of time and so as not to spoil the surprise, we won’t cover the definitions here. Suffice to say, the authors propose that each task, each objective is different and requires a different archetype of leader (you could even argue that each follower requires a different archetype). To color their thesis, the authors present illustrative case studies, from Cirque du Soleil, who deliver breathtaking performances night after night, to the Dabbawalas of Mumbai, who deliver hundreds of thousands of lunchboxes to office workers every day.
As I said above, the book is absolutely beautiful. The full-color, well-designed pages expand on the experience of learning leadership, and contribute to the high-price tag on the book. Still, I believe the price is well worth the experience and that Beghair and Quigley really have capture the archetypes needs to get teams to work As One.
Within customer service circles, there is a concept that everything that matters in customer loyalty can be measured with one metric: the net promoter score. The idea behind that net promoter score is that everything about customer loyalty can be summarized with the question, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” Surveys ask customers to rate their likeliness based on a scale from 0 to 10. Reponses are sorted into three groups: Promoters, Passives and Detractors. Detractors are subtracted from Promoter and the result is the company’s net promoter score. High score represent high service companies (think Zappos). Low scores represent poor service companies (think the Postal Service). Despite the myriad of metrics one could measure about a user’s experience, much of what matters can be represented in this score.
What does any of this have to do with leadership?
Leadership is an equally or perhaps even more complex concept than happy customers. One can measure productivity or engagement, turnover or profitability. One can pick whatever metric they want, or set about measuring them all. But perhaps there is a way to reword the promoter question to arrive at most of what matters.
“How likely is it that you would follow for this leader again?”
No matter what metric you settle on, you have to poll the leaders followers. The followers would have the best idea of whether the team met its objectives, whether the team was engaged and how the leader help bring the team to its final envisioned destination. Whether or not that team would work for the leader again becomes a pretty easy way to get a picture of the leaders effectiveness.
What do you think? What is this idea missing? How could we go about applying this idea?
Last week we released our February podcast featuring an interview with Guy Harris, co-author of From Bud to Boss. The interview turned into a great discussion on developing new leaders and using failure as a learning tool. Guy and Kevin also gave me a copy of the book to review. If you haven’t caught any of the buzz around this book, Guy and Kevin have condensed their training curriculum into a book designed to be a comprehensive guide on the transition from peer to manager. Overall, I think the book falls short of being comprehensive, but still makes for a good introduction for new managers.
The book itself is divided into six sections: Transition, Change, Communication, Coaching, Collaboration and Commitment to Success. Guy and Kevin claim these six sections represent the most common themes of struggle and frustration for new managers and set off tackling them individually. Inside each section, however, one encounters merely a top-line summary of the topic then a lot of lists and cute rhyming quips (My favorite by far is “Ultimately what matters is not goal setting, it is goal getting.”) While the summaries are good, the 300-page thickness of the book gives the impression more could have been covered. Noticeably absent from the book are references to evidence-based theories or well-researched models (with the exception of a two page summary of Tuckman’s Group Development model). In the interest of objectivity, I don’t believe this book is a right read for the majority of the LDRLB family (books such as Leading Change or The First 90 Days give the same message but with more depth).
However, I MUST comment on one big strength of the book: DISC. During their chapter on communication, Guy and Kevin present one of the best summaries of the DISC model I’ve read. They present the information in a simple, but in depth manner, all the while avoiding the pitfall of claiming it is the know-all end-all remedy for communication issues.
If you’re interested in learning how to transition into a new leadership role, perhaps a set of six individual books covering these areas would better prepare you. HOWEVER, if you need to get up to speed quick on organizational communication and how it changes when individuals move up in the organization then I would recommend you pick up a copy of From Bud to Boss.