Issue 203 - February 2020
Is humility a key trait of highly effective leaders? Are charismatic leaders who can stir strong emotions more effective leaders?
Questions about these intertwined leadership characteristics recently came up in workshops and online discussions. Charismatic leadership seems to especially confuse many people. It's a popular media stereotype of strong leadership. As much as I enjoy reading Fortune magazine, they keep adding to this misguided leadership view by continually putting larger-than-life CEOs, politicians, and other leaders on their covers and featuring stories on their forceful personalities.
Numerous studies show that charisma isn't a key quality of highly effective leaders. A European study reports on "The Downside of Charisma" with this conclusion, "We found that leaders of the higher-performing companies were often not charismatic -- and were, in fact, less likely to be charismatic than the leaders of the lower-performing companies. The problem with charismatic leaders is that exceptional powers of persuasion make it easy for them to overcome resistance and opposition to their chosen course of action."
Charismatic leaders often don't listen. They're too busy overcoming resistance with their powers of persuasion. They often see humility as weakness. If they could shut up long enough to learn, they might discover that it's a vital trait for great leadership. From his good to great research, Jim Collins found humility is a hallmark of the very best leaders. In his Harvard Business Review article, "Level 5 Leadership, The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve," he wrote, "Level 5 leaders, inherently humble, look out the window to apportion credit - even undue credit - to factors outside themselves. If they can't find a specific person or event to give credit to, they credit good luck. At the same time, they look in the mirror to assign responsibility, never citing bad luck or external factors when things go poorly. Conversely, the comparison executives frequently looked out the window for factors to blame but preened in the mirror to credit themselves when things went well."
Humility is a vital part of the me/we continuum so central to leadership. A leader with a healthy ego feels a deep sense of satisfaction in the accomplishments of the team or organization he or she is leading. Their ego is stroked by coaching, developing, and building others and watching them grow.
A leader me-deep in their unhealthy ego is self-centered and diminished by the accomplishments of others. The leader must always be in the spotlight and have others defer to their authority. This leader works to build dependence and a parent-child relationship. This unhealthy ego drives the leader to seek all credit for team or organization accomplishments and blame others for all failures.
Less effective leaders often have low levels of emotional intelligence. A webinar participant in last month's Powerful New Approaches webinar (see first item in this newsletter) asked, "what are some good ways to coach toward greater emotional intelligence? This has proved difficult with low self-awareness in those with low EQ."
The best approach I've seen is 360 feedback. Low EQ awareness usually means it's a fatal flaw. When leaders get that feedback, they're often surprised or even shocked. They need to appreciate how fatal flaws drag down perceptions of their overall leadership effectiveness and the impact of that on engagement, service/quality, profitability, safety, etc. The challenge is often helping them understand that soft skills have become an even more critical priority. A strength-based 360 assessment and development process is the most effective approach to lower feedback resistance and raise energy for building a personal development plan.
This issue provides a follow up to last month's webinar with a link to watch the recording and a few answers to some of the questions raised. Engaging and energizing is a vital leadership task. You'll have a chance to determine if you're leading in the key of E. And we conclude our New Year's series on losing those fake news blues with thoughts grounded in reality.
May you find some ideas to continue to keep yourself, your organization, and our world growing better and better.
Last week, I delivered a 45-minute webinar on Powerful New Approaches to Leadership and Coaching Development. This webinar condensed the key research and approaches from The Extraordinary Leader and The Extraordinary Coach workshops. An 11-minute Q & A session followed the webinar presentation. I was able to answer just seven questions and couldn't get to many others. Click here to access the archived webinar and Q &A session (starts at 45:15).
Here are a few of the questions and summarized answers with links for you to drill deeper into the topic:
When dealing with a workplace focused on weaknesses, what would you suggest a person do to introduce strength-based development?
In selecting companion competencies for development, should we choose to focus on areas that are already strengths?
If I am strong in a number of competencies, what how do I leverage those strengths?
There are times where people may be missing a competency or skill to move to the next level. How do "fatal flaws" feed into a personal development plan?
Can strategic thinking be learned?
How can you handle your CEO when he is not understanding your point of view or critique?
Given the vast number of webinars now available, we were delighted to have hundreds of sites register and join us. And we got the truest feedback of all -- they stayed until the very end!
I am facilitating our only 2020 public workshops of The Extraordinary Leader and The Extraordinary Coach workshops in Toronto on March 2 and 3. Registration closes February 15 for The Extraordinary Leader and February 26 for The Extraordinary Coach.
Are people in your organization leaping out of bed eager to get to work? Or is work a four-letter curse word? What's the Laughter Index in your workplace?
In the most effective organizations, leaders are often "leading in the key of E" by engaging and energizing people. It's so vital. And too rare. Leadership researcher and author, Tom Peters, says many managers believe work is serious business. He jokes that etched in stone over the entrance to business schools, the inscriptions read, "All ye who enter here shall never smile again." If suppressed laughter does spread the hips and produce gas that may explain a few things!
How do you get people to take the stairs rather than the escalator? Make it more fun. A few years ago, Volkswagen produced a short video of a fascinating experiment in Stockholm. They fitted stairs beside an escalator with electronic piano keys as steps. People could go up the escalator or walk up the stairs and make music. 66% more people suddenly choose to take the stairs. Climbing the stairs was no longer work. It was fun. Click Piano Staircase Initiative to join the fun.
German organizational professor, Nico Rose, surveyed 900 middle managers to assess what workplace factors stressed out or energized them. In Lack of Fun at Work Kills Motivation, he writes, "given that having fun at work is such a serious matter -- an interesting follow-up question is: What are the drivers of perceived fun at work? In order to clarify this, I ran another linear regression; this time, using (lack of) fun as the target variable. These are the three most important drivers of fun at work:
Building strengths is vital to an energized workplace. Michelle McQuaid found "78% of employees who report having a meaningful discussion with their manager about their strengths feel their work is making a difference and is appreciated. These employees are most likely (61%) to be leaping out of bed in the morning to get to work." Playing to our strengths is much more fun.
Research also shows that putting purpose at the core of your organization boosts engagement and effectiveness. Purposeful leadership is even more critical for younger generations. They are Generation Why, as in why does this organization exist?
Are you having fun? Do you let your face know about it? Are you energizing your organization? Or are you the boss who energizes the room by leaving it?
These comments and excerpts come from my last two blogs on Lose Those News Blues and Leave the Dark Side: The World's Never Been Better and Don't Start the New Year Losing Touch With Reality
This section summarizes last month's LinkedIn Updates and Twitter Tweets about online articles or blog posts that I've flagged as worth reading. These are usually posted on weekends when I am doing much of my reading for research, learning, or leisure. You can follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JimClemmer and connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimclemmer
My original tweet commenting on the article follows each title and descriptor from the original source:
The items in each month's issue of The Leader Letter are first published in my weekly blog during the previous month.
If you read each blog post (or issue of The Leader Letter) as it's published over twelve months, you'll have read the equivalent of a leadership book. And you'll pick up a few practical leadership tips that help you use time more strategically and tame your E-Beast!
I am always delighted to hear from readers of The Leader Letter with feedback, reflections, suggestions, or differing points of view. Nobody is ever identified in The Leader Letter without their permission. I am also happy to explore customized, in-house adaptations of any of my material for your team or organization. Drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or my blog!
Live, learn, laugh, and lead -- just for the L of it!
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