I’ve said it many times as I have written my Manager Minutes over the past several years, they are met for me and are often a reminder for myself regarding leadership lessons I have learned over my career.
Earlier today I received an email from my friends at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service asking me to invite my colleagues to their programs. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend both LEAD (Leading, Educating, and Developing) and SEI (Senior Executive Institute). As I reminisced being on the campus in Charlottesville and the lessons learned from the programs, the overarching theme is challenging traditional leadership.
Traditional leadership models represent a hierarchy where the boss is at the top of the pyramid and each level below represent diminishing responsibility. With a traditional leadership approach, the leader encourages people to do their jobs by providing them with guidance, direction and motivation. The main focus of a traditional leader is to improve the business position of the company or the organization. The leadership models that are discussed at SCI and LEAD are the Networked Talent Model and Leadership At All Levels model. In this model they flip the pyramid upside down with top management at the bottom and the customer at the top.
Another Concept they often refer to is the study on leadership by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander in the book The Art of Possibility. Within this model they compare the work of a leader with that of an orchestra conductor. Some of the Key Concepts of their study include:
- The Art of Leadership is about a new way of being, both individually and together - a new Change Culture dedicated to excellence
- Lead by making others powerful (remember that the orchestra conductor doesn’t make a sound)
- Each person has a signature leadership style, gifts, and role - like the orchestra’s diverse in-struments
- Leadership is teamwork, not solo work – we are a symphony “sounding together”
- Speak possibility: By recognizing downward spirals and identifying what you could “play” that would make the most difference in your professional and personal life
- Quiet the inner voice that says “I can’t”
- Look for shining eyes – is your presence enlivening & engaging others?
- Include others in the journey of possibility
- Enroll every voice in the vision
- Everyone gets an “A” to live in to, not a standard to live up to
- First Rule of Leadership - Rule #6: Don’t take yourself so @#!*#! seriously!
- The most profound lesson from Zander for me was to lead by making others powerful. In a symphony “we” are all in it together.
These are the lessons from the conductor on making others powerful:
- Conductor doesn’t make a sound – only musician who doesn’t make a sound - Depends for his power on his ability to make other people powerful by enlivening possibility in them. This was a phenomenal realization for me.
- Ask myself ‘Am I being effective?’ Only way to tell if I am doing my job of making others powerful is to look into their eyes. Shining eyes is a place of awe.
- So If people’s eyes are not shining, I have to ask myself “who am I being that the eyes of my players are not lit up?”
- Disciplined Practice of Invitation - Ask for suggestions from every group I work with. One feedback – ‘You are not doing enough crescendo, so that night at the concert I did a huge crescendo.’ I hope everyone will feel “You did my crescendo!”
- A leader never doubts the capacity of his or her people to realize whatever he or she is dreaming. Imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. had said, “I have a dream! But I wonder if they will be up to it?”
I am thankful for my email today because it encouraged me to reach into my vault of lessons learned. I keep a flash drive plugged into my docking station that has the HPO material at the ready, and it doesn’t hurt me to occasionally click on the files and refresh and recharge my memory.
“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” — David Marquet
References to the above material is from work produced by SEI and LEAD.