#AnatomyOfLeadership(4): What Leadership Effectiveness Means

Anatomy4As a younger leader, I read many leadership books. They had ideals, standards and clearly stated the qualities that a leader should possess. To be effective, I had to practice a long list. It wore me out – and I found out why.

Those books addressed only the good and left me clueless on what to do with the bad and the crazy. I got relief when I realized that my weaknesses and complexities are vital aspects of my effectiveness.

On that note, I redefined leadership effectiveness. It’s simply the sum total of The Good, The Bad and The Crazy. The formula would look like this:

The Good + The Bad + The Crazy = Leadership Effectiveness

How does this work?

Focus on the three aspects. None is more important than the other. As much as the good, I suggest that you KNOW, OWN and MANAGE your weaknesses and crazies. Pay attention and think through a management system to handle them.

Your faults and crazies may never change, but you can be in charge. And yes, you can be crazy and lead well.

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The Anatomy of Leadership ~ 3

Anatomy3I began this series by stating that every leader is made up of three major parts: The Good, The Bad, The Crazy. I’ve addressed the first two. Now, welcome to The Crazy.

The crazy is the complicated aspects of the leader’s life. It’s those elements that have deep, complex roots that can’t be easily explained or taken at face value – the crazy defies logic.

Usually, these are inward struggles due to different life experiences or the leader’s background. For most leaders, this is the toughest part of their existence. It’s simply complicated.

Leaders avoid talking about these areas of their lives because they grapple with its complexities – sometimes for many years – and lack the articulation required to share it with the public. It’s private and typically not shared.

However, it comes out in symptoms and often shocking behavioral patterns that make people wonder. It’s one reason why a massively successful person would suddenly commit suicide for “no apparent reason” – with no explanation. The crazy does exist and it’s part of leadership.

If that’s the case, what does leadership effectiveness mean in the context of this anatomy? Part four explains it.

The Anatomy of Leadership ~ 2

Anatomy2The bad is the leader’s weaknesses. These are faults or undeveloped areas in the leader’s life. Weaknesses in leaders vary – from emotional or character flaws to professional incompetence.

For instance, Tiger Woods is a great golfer, but had issues in his personal life. Every leader is flawed in some way.

Many leaders fail because they try to build integrity on their weaknesses. They make promises in these areas oblivious of the depth of their flaws. Here good intentions don’t count. It’s difficult to build integrity in an area in which you’ve not developed.

That said. Does a leader’s weakness make them a bad leader? No. Yes. No because faults are challenges that can be managed or overcome. Yes – when the leader lets their flaws run amok. But overall, weaknesses don’t have to disqualify a leader. It’s the leader’s choice.

Managed or not, weaknesses in the leader may or may not go away. But it’s a vital aspect in trying to understand leadership because the bad comes with the package and affects everyone involved with the leader.

In the next part, I’ll address: The Crazy. Keep reading.

The Anatomy of Leadership

Anatomy1Leadership is a big word; it feels strangely weighty – probably why it’s easily misunderstood. However, it’s essential to life. The leadership guru, John C. Maxwell, said that, “everything rises and falls on leadership” – and in this case, everything means everything.

After years of studying leaders, I’ve demystified and articulated the anatomy of leadership and this is it: every leader is made up of three major parts – The Good, The Bad, The Crazy. I’ll breakdown each part in this series.

The Good is the leader’s strengths. This aspect of the leader’s essence adds value to others – folks enjoy this part. Here delivery is effortless because the leader is gifted or has developed in an area. Leaders display their strengths with pride. Also, it’s a tool for integrity.

For instance: Sir Richard Branson is great at entrepreneurship or the U.S. President, Barack Obama, is an amazing orator. These are areas of strength.

Many leadership books encourage people to focus only on their strengths. Sounds like good advice, but I don’t agree. That’s just one part. How about the bad and the crazy?

GES: Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya

GESNairobi is my city – and this week, the feverish excitement is palpable. Walking through the city center, you would see the distinct change in the atmosphere, unlike other days. Traffic is insane, even the media is going wild. It’s crazy!

Why? Two things!

First, the U.S. President, Barack Obama, is coming home. Here, it’s a big deal. So yes, the U.S. Security Services are taking no chances. They are everywhere. This week, I suspect that Nairobi will be the most secure spot on the planet.

Second, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is taking place in the East African hub. From the 24th-26th, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders will be playing in my city. The excitement is fun. I’m enjoying it.

However, when the dust settles and the hype ends and President Obama goes home with his crew – what does it all mean?

I’ll enjoy the party, by all means. But after the party, I’ll roll up my sleeves and get to work because history has proven that hype alone is unsustainable. When the rubber meets the road, only those who are truly prepared enjoy the goods. For now, let’s have fun!

Don’t be fooled, Entrepreneurship isn’t Personality

abex_img1The prevailing notion of the entrepreneur is the go-getter, fast-talking, outgoing, people-person who shrewdly cuts deals. This person is usually an extrovert, hardly an introvert. For many, they’re unable to describe the art of entrepreneurship beyond this personality trait.

This is a costly misconception.

At the core of entrepreneurship are principles and policies that will help anyone build business systems. I repeat: anyone – quiet, loud, calm, or in-between personality – anyone.

Fortunately, we have enough proof in the corporate world to confirm that successful entrepreneurs come in every personality trait imaginable. They all thrive because each one, personality irrespective, found the principles that make business work.

Every pilot knows that they have to comply with the laws of aerodynamics to enable them fly. Likewise, entrepreneurs have to adhere to the principles of entrepreneurship and the laws of money in order to succeed.

The principles make the professional. That’s the real deal, not personality. No doubt, it helps to have certain personal qualities to help you; however, professional endeavors are built on laws and principles.

As you refine your personality, find the laws that govern entrepreneurship, apply them and success won’t discriminate.

Boss, Hire Better People!

romero-britto-in-the-parkOn a consulting assignment, many years ago, I got into a conversation with a business owner who told me that she was careful to hire low-skilled individuals, who asked fewer questions and would not challenge her ideas.

If you were educated beyond high school, showed too much smarts or opinionated, you had no chance in her organization. I was stunned!

Then, it was hard to believe that this individual would deliberately seek out low-skilled, ‘yes’ folks for her business. I didn’t expect that kind of thinking at that level

Well, I’m way past the initial shock because I’ve seen this thought pattern displayed in various ways in the corporate world. Instances where entrepreneurs and business leaders stifle sharp minds due to the leader’s insecurities – abound.

There’s a downside though. These leaders forfeit the benefits of good feedback which in turn hinders business growth. In such organizations, innovation is rare because the atmosphere is designed to frustrate it.

A leader’s insecurities should be properly managed to avoid the alienation of brilliant minds. This is vital because in the face of current business challenges, you need all the mental ‘firepower’ you can find.