Friday, July 9, 2010

The Leadership Code Identifies Five Qualities For Leaders

In any organization, leaders are looking for great leaders to join their team.  The challenge is to identify what actually makes for good leadership in each organization.

In a recent Harvard Business Review, Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood, coauthor of The Leadership Code (along with their colleague Kate Sweetman) determined recently to synthesize what constitutes a great leader.  They turned to recognized experts in the field who had already spent years sifting through the evidence and asked two simple but elusive questions:

1. What percentage of effective leadership traits are basically the same?
2. If there are common rules that all leaders must master, what are they? 

Their respondents agreed that 60-70% of leadership is common for any effective leaders - from a bootstrapping entrepreneur to a leader at a large organization. 

By synthesizing their work they identified five rules to decode leadership: 

Rule 1: Shape the future. This rule is embodied in the strategist dimension of the leader. Strategists answer the question "where are we going?" and make sure that those around them understand the direction as well.

Rule 2: Make things happen. Turn what you know into what you do. The Executor dimension of the leader focuses on the question "How will we make sure we get to where we are going?" 

Rule 3: Engage today's talent. Leaders who optimize talent today answer the question "Who goes with us on our business journey?" Talent managers know how to identify, build and engage talent to get results now.

Rule 4: Build the next generation. Leaders who develop the next generation answer the question, "who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?" Talent Managers ensure shorter-term results through people while Next Generation Developers ensure that the organization has the longer-term competencies required for future strategic success. 

Rule 5: Invest in yourself. At the heart of this Leadership Code - literally and figuratively - is Personal Proficiency. Effective leaders cannot be reduced to what they know and do. Who they are as human beings has everything to do with how much they can accomplish with and through other people. 

This "Leadership Code" allows leadership development people to stop circling the drain by reinventing competency models that are essentially the same. It provides a grounded point of view about the fundamentals. Future time, energy and attention can be applied to figuring out the other 30% about what makes our leaders unique and how to build a deeper bench of qualified leaders at every level. 

Norm Smallwood is the cofounder of The RBL Group and coauthor of The Leadership Code

Now, the challenge for each of us, is to reach inside ourselves and continue to learn and take action to be a great leaders.  The next challenge is to attract great leaders to our organizations.

Deanna Waters, Diamond Director, Usana Health Sciences
Your comments are welcome.

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