This is part of my New Leader series. I started this project to define clearly what a leader is for my team at Bridge but have gotten interest from others.
One of the things I expect from Bridge Leaders is Creativity. How can I not? Any credible company already knows that they’re not in the business of “technology” but in constantly being the best at creating and innovating meaningful customer experiences. To do this seriously (and not just say it without achieving it), Creativity must be found at all departments and levels in our company. This includes traditionally uptight departments like finance, Human Resources, and operations.
But first, let’s redefine what Creativity is. It’s more than being colourful or outlandish. It’s more than wearing weird clothes or just going against the grain. I find our caricatures of what a Creative is gets in the way of us actually developing this very necessary skill in today’s world, particularly, the business world.
This is a very simple guide to effective leadership, with effective being defined as “successful in producing beneficial results”. I deliberately switched the word beneficial for the word intended because many times, in this fast-changing world, our original intentions need refining as well. It is possible to go seek something and find out, in the process of seeking it, that it is not the outcome we really want not need. Much has been said about the agility required in today’s environment. I have realized that an agility of objective is just as important as an agility of execution.
A lot has been written and said about leadership, so much in fact that it’s confusing. This guide does not try to better them. This is simply my personal approach to getting things done in a team, and it follows my penchant for simplification, some would say oversimplification, because it is designed to be easy to understand across a team.
Here is my leadership framework:
At the center of the framework is the Leader, the primary agent for progress in a team. A leader takes on the responsibility of causing the team to a better place. I think it is important to be clear that the leader does not solely bring the team to a better place. Getting there, that better place, is a team effort. Saying that a leader causes it means he or she gives rise to the team actions that result in the outcome.
The Three Core Abilities
To lead effectively, a Leader must have the following abilities:
When Clarity and Capital combine, we have Focus. Channeling our human, financial, and social resources at a very clearly defined outcome leads to benefits such as alignment, less waste, and a strong brand.
When Capital and Competence combine, we have Productivity. Our resources and our skills together produce good things. This helps us ship out products and services, helps get things done, and helps us do these things in an efficient manner.
When Clarity and Competence combine, we end up with Dynamism. Dynamism is defined as:
The quality of being characterized by vigorous activity and progress.
When a leader and his team are very clear about what the want to accomplish and have the skills to make it happen, including the necessary collaboration skills, this leads to highly-energized way of working that is not only exciting but gains momentum as it continues. This momentum triggers a virtuous cycle, as it leads to great progress, making the vision, mission and values more real and more achievable, leading to more capital coming in (in different forms), leading to more excitement for the team that translates to even more energy.
I want to spend a little more time with this one.
Dynamism in a team is a highly-prized quality but for some reason leaders continue to ignore the factors that lead to Clarity and Competence. Instead of clarifying further the vision, mission, and values, we tend to bloat them with dogma, tradition, and conflicting interests. Instead of ensuring purposefulness, we are busy propping up the past. Instead of principles, we end up with policies. Instead of performance, we are distracted by politics.
I will write about the abilities of Clarity, Competence, and Capital in more detail, but for now let me leave you with this: Be a dynamic, productive, focused person; and surround yourself with dynamic, productive, and focused people. I can’t think of a simpler leadership hack than that. I am privileged to be surrounded by such people, and that is an earned privilege for deliberately making sure I am dynamic, productive, and focused. You will attract more of what you are. #DB