- Episode Focus: Looking at several leadership articles from around the world including topics such as:
- Finding your leadership voice
- Do we need to switch our focus to instrumental leadership
- Leadership role models for our children
- Leadership focus – process versus results
- Three critical leadership traits that you may be overlooking
- Some comments that have been generated in response to various articles – keep the discussion going
- Continuing to tweak the VOCL website to make it more relevant and easily accessible for you. Let me know if you have suggestions for improvements.
- Interviews – several of them!
- Today’s episode will be a shorter one – I have to go to the airport later today!
VOCL Resources and Articles
This week – a random selection of 5 articles on different aspects of leadership.
Why Speakers Need A Leadership Voice by Nick Morgan at Forbes on 2 December 2014.
In order to lead, you need to be able to find your authentic leadership voice. I’ve previously discussed an article on what has been found to be a more effective leadership voice in the Canadian context, but I liked the angle that this article provided. Not only does a leader’s voice become deeper and varies less in pitch, but the language becomes more declarative. In your followers, this builds credibility and trust. What really made me want to bring this article to you is the following sentence:
“So it’s not about faking it until you make it, but it is about believing that you have something worthwhile to share with the audience and adopting the voice to match that authority.”
Non-sexy type of leadership that really matters by Robert Hooijberg, Dan Denison, John Antonakis & Nancy Lane at The Jakarta Post on 29 November 2014.
This article highlights that although the concepts of “transformational leadership” and “transactional leadership” are getting a lot of attention lately, there needs to be a greater emphasis on instrumental leadership. The authors define the concept of instrumental leadership along two main dimensions: a solid understanding of the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) environment, and providing guidance to your followers on achieving their tasks.
It got me thinking about one of the key aspects of leadership, that of vision. A vision can help guide your followers to the destination, but the authors state that vision isn’t enough; you need to be able to take the vision and break it down into actionable steps. Although the fundamental principles of leadership don’t change (and thus a leader in one setting could become a leader in another setting), the authors also make the case that, all things being equal, the best leaders are those with more in-depth knowledge of their business or organization.
Leadership Role Models for Our Children by Dr Robert Tornambe at Huffington Post on 10 December 2014.
An article to highlight that leadership can be found everywhere, not just in the (social) media. To offer some context, the author was asked by his child’s school to take part in a leadership panel composed of several parents from different walks of life – in other words, the community. He mentions that he learned much about leadership during this forum, especially about finding and learning from role models. Where do you find these people, though?
The answer lies in the community. Yes, there will always be leadership gurus, large-stage leaders such as political figures and business icons, etc., but these may not always be available. What you should strive to find are leaders in your own neighbourhood – there are likely many examples if you simply look for them (such as teachers, fire chiefs, neighbourhood people who seem to be able to rally people around a cause, etc.).
I’ll close with three action points that you really need to take from this article:
- If you have kids (whether your own or through your responsibilities), you will be teaching them about what it is to be a leader by telling them what to look for in their community. Their research will help reinforce those lessons.
- The same goes for you as well! Try to find those leaders in your community, and see what makes them effective. Make these admirable traits part of your personality.
- BE the person that someone else would find as a community leader! Or, as Gandhi stated, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
Leadership Experts Worry About Process, Leaders Worry About Results by Rob Asghar at Forbes on 24 November 2014.
I admit it – I read the first two paragraphs of the article and immediately started thinking that the author got it all wrong. These paragraphs infer that the product of leadership is more important than the process. What I immediately jumped to in my mind was – “This guy doesn’t get it! Training people in leadership is about identifying processes/principles that LEAD to a more favourable product.”
I’ll phrase that a different way – using the author’s terms, improving the process increases the likelihood of improving the product. Think of manufacturing. Although it’s not the best fit for an analogy (since people are NOT machines and should not be treated as such), following specific quantifiable/qualitative steps increase the likelihood of producing similar desirable results. That’s the value of a process.
The tone in the rest of the article softens up somewhat, but I still don’t agree with the entering argument. I do agree that the process needs to be revised if it does not produce the desired results. I would strongly hesitate, however, at having a strictly outcome-based focus. That path leads to the Dark Side where the end justifies the means…
What do you think?
BTW, when I posted my comment on the website, the author replied with the following:
“VOCL, I very much agree with you that a strictly outcome-based focus can lead to the Dark Side. But I’m also trying to be a realists. That “let’s get this particular thing done, even if it kills us” attitude is what seems to characterize *most* great leaders of history, from Caesar to Steve Jobs, for better *and* for worse. I’m suggesting that many consultants are not being realistic when they claim that constantly taking the temperature of the room will result in kumbaya outcomes. But I agree, it may well keep us from the Dark Side….”
On LinkedIn, Brian provided the following comment:
“It is a bit of chicken-and-egg is it not? How can one use a process if the result is not determined; how can you expect a result if there isn’t a process to get you there. The weight, however, rests in the results to be achieved in consideration of the factors and risks. No need getting there if it’s the wrong destination.”
3 Crucial Leadership Traits You May Be Overlooking by Josh Linkner at Forbes on 26 November 2014.
A short article that highlights three (sometimes) overlooked aspects of leadership: empathy, active listening, and being open-minded.
- Empathy – placing yourself in your followers’ shoes
- Active Listening – make sure that you fully understand what your followers are saying
- Open-minded – make sure that you consider the ideas and opinions of your followers
Although quick, it’s a worthwhile read.
VOCL Listener Feedback
- Jessica pointed out in the comment section for episode 40 (An interview with Julian Bolster) that I didn’t ask for specific recommendations – great point! I’ve fixed my question bank to cover this gap. Are there other questions that you want to know of leaders during these interviews? If so, please let me know.
VOCL Closing Thoughts / Future Episodes / Call to Action
What’s been happening
- New Year’s Day – Polar bear swim in Lake Pisiquid in Windsor, NS.
- Back is much better – I’m playing ringette and hockey once again!
- Going to Canadian Ringette Championships – end-March 2015
- Creating a new certification program in NS for shot clock operators
Takeaways and Introspection
- Leadership Role Models for Our Children by Dr Robert Tornambe at Huffington Post. BE the person that someone else would find as a community leader! Don’t limit yourself to your daily effort (business, non-profit, etc.)