Emerging Approaches To Leadership

emerging leadershipAfter beginning a two year research to propose some leadership theories which focus on a particular characteristic of a leader, leaving out the followers and situations from the equation, I’ve been able to break down leadership into the following four categories: Charismatic Leadership, Attribution Leadership, Transactional Leadership, and Transformational Leadership.

Charismatic Leadership

The theory behind Charismatic Leadership emphasizes the ability of a leader to communicate new visions of an organization to its followers and to raise follower awareness of the importance and core value of goals, often getting people to exceed their own interests.

Charismatic Leaders are dominant, able to express their vision, are exceptionally self-confident, have a high need for power, and have a strong conviction in the moral “righteousness” of their beliefs. They strive to project a magnetic personality which emanates success and competence, and they convey high expectation for and confidence in followers. Leader who possess and exhibit these characteristics inspire trust, confidence, affection, admiration, emotional involvement, obedience, and high performance in their followers. The Charismatic Leader often appears under conditions of uncertainty or in times of crisis which are stressful and make more cognitively and emotionally receptive to the ideas and actions of someone perceived as a so-called savior.

Attribution Theory

Attribution Theory deals with trying to make sense out of Cause and Effect Relationships. When an event takes place, people want to attribute it with a specific cause. This theory states that leadership is simply an attribution that people make about other individuals. The fundamental flaw is a bias in the perception process because people tend to attribute the behavior of other people to their own motivation and ability rather that the situation. Research has found that people tend to characterize leaders as having traits such as personality, understanding, intelligence, strong verbal skills, aggressiveness, and often at time display industriousness.

At the organizational level, attribution theory explains why people are prone to attribute either the extremely negative or the extremely positive performance of an organization to its leadership. This theory fails to take in consideration influences or forces from the external environment. Therefore, people have a “built-in” tendency to give too much credit to other people or to place too much blame on them.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional Leadership takes place when leaders and their followers are in some type of exchange relationship which satisfies needs for one or both parties. The exchange can be economic, psychological, or political in nature; and examples might include exchanging money for work, loyalty for consideration, and political favors. Transactional Leaders help organizations reach their current goals and objectives more efficiently by connecting job performance to valued rewards or by ensuring that employees have the needed resources to get the job done. Transactional Leadership is very common but tends to be transitory, in that there may be no lasting purpose to hold parties together once a transaction takes place.

James MacGregor Burns noted that while this type of leadership could be quite effective, it did not result in organizational or even societal change and, instead tended to perpetuate and legitimize the status quo. In conclusion, Transactional Leaders view management as a series of transactions in which they use their legitimate, reward, and coercive powers to give commands and exchange rewards for services rendered.

Transformational Leadership

The Transformational Leadership process is currently the most popular leadership perspective, and it moves way beyond the more “traditional” transactional approach to leadership. Transformational Leadership is related to charisma in that these leaders motivate people to exceed their personal interests for the sake of the larger community. It also produces levels of dependent efforts and performance that go beyond what would occur with a Transactional Leadership approach alone. In addition, Transformational Leadership is much more than just charisma. While the purely charismatic leader may want followers to adopt his or her “world view” and go no further, the Transactional Leader will attempt to instill in followers the ability to question not only the established views but eventually those established by the leader.

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus have defined four skills of leadership, which are required for the Transformational Leader to be successful: First, is a strategic vision or goal that evokes people’s attention. Second, is the ability to successfully communicate that vision through words, manners, or symbolism. The third skill set is to have the capacity to build trust by being consistent, dependable, and persistent. And lastly, the fourth skill required for a Transformational Leader to be successful is the capability of positive self-regard–by striving for success. The use of these four skills builds follower commitment and pumps them up to adopt the leader’s vision as their own. They also perform their jobs better, engage in more organizational citizenship behaviors, and make better or more creative decisions.

To close, Transformational Leadership is closer to the prototype of leadership that people have in mind when the describe their ideal leader and is more likely to provide a role model in which dependents want to identify.

This wraps up an 24 month long journey down the leadership road. One in which I’m very grateful to have traveled and will continue to do so. Thank you to everybody who supported me along the way. If you have any insight or wish to share your experiences – please consider leaving a comment to my closing questions.

Of the four categories of leadership I described above, which one do you feel fits best into your daily life? Is there anything that you disagree with? If so, what is it and why?

Communication Is Key

communication is keySomething I’ve echoed for years is “Problems stem from the lack of or poor communication.”

Sometimes overwhelming emotions or uncertainties can throw us off track when searching for solutions, either large or small. Regardless, they need to be attended to and handled with thorough thought and mature reasoning.

How do you find a medium that works for you; between verbal and non-verbal communication?

A recent speech given by Michael Hyatt at the Liberty University touched on some great elements on how we can communicate more effectively; by dealing with offenses. I think we often forget that offenses are a choice we make and until we understand that, we will continue to inhibit our ability to communicate effectively. And by allowing ourselves to accept the inevitable, we grow as people, for our families, for our friends, and for our communities.

Spoken Words: Know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.

God has given us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. By listening to others, we open ourselves to have a better understand them. Being able to set aside our own need to be heard, and listening to others, allows us to help increase the likelihood to better understand them. Who they are, what their interests are, what the dreams and goals are, and most important–what they have in common with us.

We express ourselves verbally to receive feedback, to be understood and heard. Even those who don’t understand exactly what they are saying often learn to separate the emotion from intellect, thus allowing for effective communication. When it comes to non-verbal communication, adapting or “blending” our body language opens up a whole new level of effectiveness. This supports most communication studies that state body language being the dominating factor in human interaction. Putting our tone of voice in second place and the actual words we say in third. Again, this supports my delay of incorporating written word into my personal life.

Can Storytellers Be Part Of A Domino Project?

domino project azWhen there are people who share a common goal, things happen. Progress happens. Leadership happens. Results happen. Awesome happens.

Each one of us has something different to offer the world. We have the ability to connect with people that share a common goal or dream. When we embrace what is important to us, ideas are shared and stories begin to surface.

The other night, I attended a collaboration event of local writers to the Phoenix area. Inspired by The Domino Project, both Tyler Hurst and Jeff Moriarty organized its focus on writers and storytellers who are looking to do more with their current projects.

There were about 15 of us, each with something to share and discuss with others what we think we need to do, to better ourselves. Most of us seem to be at a stop with our current (projects) because (1) we either feel that our content is lacking or (2) we don’t know how to get to the next step.

After Tyler and Jeff spent a few minutes going over what brought us all together and we answered some questions. We then proceeded to go around, one by one, and describe what each of us could teach others about storytelling, as well as, the things we would you like to learn from it. There was a great mix — from technical writers to creative writers, from screenplay and sketch work writers to humorists and bloggers.

I’ve never considered myself a writer, I probably never will. I’m not sure why but I can say that while growing up and going to school, my least favorite classes and activities were any of those that had a lot of writing. I’m not 100% sure how or why, but I think some of it stems from early communication courses. Both verbal and non-verbal communications are of the essence when it comes to interacting with others. And considering that 15-20% of what we say (in words… by themselves) are effective. While the remaining 80-85% pertains to the tone of voice and body language, I guess I never saw the point in writing.

When it came time to share with others what we were doing and why we were there, I broke my introduction into two parts. The first part was a brief history of how and why I communicate with others while emphasizing on the emotional intelligence and the use of relevant and effective analogies. The second part was a description of my current book series project and the reasoning behind it, which you can find here.

This is how the first part of my introduction was summarized:

Analogies – are seedlings to stories. During some time working in the IT industry, we found that most clients needed to have a good understanding as to what was going on with their network infrastructure, most being medical, legal, or finance professionals – their focus was their industry. Learning about what they did and understanding their lingo, per se, allowed us to use various analogies, which gave us the opportunity to communicate with them effectively and efficiently.

Engagement – connecting with who you communicate. While we experience life as it comes, we learn that through storytelling, we create a connection with our audience. Listeners and readers, leaders and followers, and, speakers and writers; each and not limited to their own way in relating to others. Focusing in on how we connect with others allows for us engage and continues the way we relate.

With the use of analogies, storytellers are able to engage with their audiences. While we are still able to individually recognize and respond to those we are speaking with, we also create something; a bond, a common and distinct connection. Sometimes the fragments of our past, help align us to project our futures. So, by using analogies for the sake of engaging with our audience(s) — keep in mind who you are speaking to and what common objectives are sought.

How do you effectively communicate with others outside your industry?

Community Leadership

community leadershipHave you ever been asked to help with a great cause to share and make a difference within your community?

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Shawn Murphy of Achieved Strategies to see if I wanted to contribute a guest blog post. It was a blog series titled “Revive and Thrive” and its focus was for this new year of 2011. Of course, I was willing to participate and help add value to the cause. Being able to contribute alongside the many great members of the leadership community was a great privilege.

At the time, I focused on four key areas in which I found to be important based on discussions with leaders from several communities, such as Lead Change Group, Twitter’s #CustServ chat which is focused on Customer Service and is held every Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern Time, and those from the 2010 World Business Forum Blogger’s Hub.

In a post titled “What’s Next” – The four areas in which I felt were important for us to ‘Revive and Thrive in 2011’ were: Relationships, Following, Leading, and Experience.

I believe that each of the four, are key areas in which we need to focus on during the rest of this year. The relationships we have in our lives today are paving the way we choose to live our lives tomorrow. With positive communication, we are able to help others achieve their goals and dreams. If any of these become hindered, we need to recognize and respond to it immediately. Almost all problems stem from lack of and/or poor communication.

The next two key areas I feel go hand and hand, a ‘yin and yang’ of principals if you will. Following and Leading. This is always a great topic of discussion, as many times people will ask “What makes a great leader?” “How can somebody lead all the time and never follow?” “If somebody is following others, how are they able to lead?” – I think you get the idea.

The fact of the matter is that both are equally important and tend to feed each other. Who we follow today are those we will lead tomorrow. And, those who we lead today will help those we want to follow tomorrow. If we continue to follow the “Define, Learn, Do” model – we continue to keep things moving in the right direction. Forward.

Lastly, I touched on the importance of Experience. All of us are here for a very short period of time. When we are able to connect with others, we are opening the doors to new experiences. Whether it is personally, professionally, or spiritually – what we do today cannot be taken away from us. There is so much opportunity available to us, only we can make the decision to make our goals and dreams become realities.

Take One Step Back, and Two Steps Forward

one step back two steps forwardHave you ever taken a step back to look where you are in your career? Do you have yourself positioned to move forward if you so choose to? Sometimes advancing is easier than you think.

Just the other day, I reconnected with an old friend. Currently working at a Help Desk she expressed an interest in both Project Management and Business Analysis, IT related.

Here is what I told her I saw based on previous experience:

The ITIL (glorified glossary but some staffers love seeing the cert) seems to be gaining more and more weight within the IT industry. When it was first introduced, it was a joke. Nothing more than a test of one’s understanding of terms… no focus on fundamental platforms, understanding of code, or overall logic. But, it now actually contains some good placement. You probably already see the ridiculous amount of certifications that are available. Most are in place to appease employers, but I’ve found experience outweighs any certification I’ve ever obtained, and I stopped counting after 20. It just got out of control past that.

While consulting, I found that both areas (project management and business analysis) of interest that you have can blend together very well. A project manager for IT based rollouts don’t need to be much of a techie, just the ability to have a basic understanding of what is going on and how to efficiently and effectively communicate with the buyer, the vendor(s) and his or her internal workforce. Some of my best paying jobs were when I would oversee and new rollout or system integration. If you’re easy to get along with and can communicate well with others, it’s a piece of cake.

Unfortunately, true “business analysts” are in a tough position right now. Due to the current upswing in the marketplace, companies are not looking at cutting costs (surprisingly) as they are looking at preparing for the next 10 to 15 years of growth and revenue generation. Expect to see a lot more small businesses pop up and loyalty based cultures get put in place amongst them. The ‘big box’ corporate strongarms are going to get gobbled up by larger/merging markets and will flounder as (cough) “standards” – for the masses.

What are you doing now… is it scalable? Is it helping you? Or is it hindering your opportunity for advancement in the workforce?

Business Startup Wealth Building

startup wealth“Your largest wealth-building asset is your income. When you tie up your income, you lose.” ~ Dave Ramsey

Does it take money to make money?

Income represents money you can invest to make more money. If you tie up all your future income, you will always be living in the past. As Dave Ramsey tells his listeners every week, you cannot jump at an opportunity without the necessary cash on hand.

Planning ahead for financial “curveballs”

Entrepreneurs need to plan ahead for business expenses – and planning ahead includes collecting the funds you need to start your business. Some people do this with credit cards (not a fan at all, but I’ll touch on that later), which can be useful IF you keep your debt to a manageable level. Risks arise as you go overboard buying things you don’t need.

Your Business Plan Lays Down the Groundwork

Your business plan can help you keep track of the financing amount you need and provide you with a blueprint for the necessary purchases you need to make before launching your startup. If you are starting a business that requires an inventory, your start-up capital needs to be greater than if you are starting a service based business where you will make money from your labor.

Stay Liquid

Successful entrepreneurs also know the value of keeping cash at hand to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. And they know the importance of saving time for the future, by not paying for the past.

Do you have any business startup stories to share about financial tips and tricks?

“Abs at Jabz” – Why Switching It Up Helps

jabz health naples floridaThe other day I walked into the gym to find that once again… the machines and workstations have been moved! Here is a little something I learned from this…

So I’ve been a member of the gym I go to for over a year now and I’m glad I made the switch when I did. Before joining Jabz Health and Fitness, I worked out at a Lifestyle Fitness, also for about a year. Both gyms are good, but are very different in many ways.

For me, when I got back into a dedicated workout routine, Lifestyle Fitness was fine. It was a fairly large fitness center and offered quite a few amenities (pool, tanning, spin classes, day care, and a great locker room with a private entry sauna). It was a gym where all levels of members walked the floors, each with their own set of goals, both long and short term. There was a certain social aspect that I imagine appeals to most, but I am the type of person who likes to go in, get my swol on, and leave. After 8 months or so, a certain social level started to develop there and I began to notice members weren’t so focused with their workouts, but were more focused on chit chatting and gawking at any new guy or girl that walked in the door. The motivation I had started to drop off a little bit and a change of scenery was in need. My workout partner mentioned that he had stopped by his old gym, which was once a Gold’s Gym, and suggested to go check it out.

Upon walking in, I sensed a level of intensity that was very appealing. There was a certain smell the gym had, the lighting seemed to be just right, the machines looked used but not busted up…rugged if you will. The free weights were more than adequate, and to top it off…there were several dedicated spots for boxing, cage fighting, and MMA training. This is exactly what I was looking for, without even knowing it!

Recognizing The Comfort Zone

After a few months of solid results, the gym decided to move some stations around. At first, this was an annoyance because I just got familiar with where everything was at. I then began to realize this was a good thing, as for it allowed me to find machines that I’d normally wouldn’t use. This was a good thing because, after a year or so of the same routine, I began to notice I was overtraining and not switching it up enough.

Sometimes when we hit plateaus and things become stagnant, we need to switch things up a bit. I’m a firm believer that if we don’t do it ourselves, God will do it for us. When we stay inside our comfort zones too long, we begin to become oblivious to our surroundings and often lose sight of what we’ve been keeping our eye on the entire time. I feel that the “workstation relocation” was a good thing and it made me realize that I needed to change things up a bit, both inside the gym and out.

When you realize that you are in need of change, what works good for you and how do you go about doing it?

7 Abilities Of The Indispensable Leader

indispensable leaderAs some of you know, I’ve been reading a lot more than usual. I believe this to be a transformational period for me, one that I’m embracing more and more each and every day. For the past six months or so, I find myself reading 5 or 6 books at a time while listening to one audiobook each week while walking/running to and from the gym. After a long break, I’ve come to appreciate the views of many great authors. Some in which a lot of us have heard of and deserve all the credit they receive… if not more. And then there are the authors that many never hear about for one reason or another.

This takes me to the old saying that “You become the person you will be in five years from the books you read and the people you surround yourself with.” I find it more and more amazing each day how we can grow as servant leaders by seeing the world through other’s eyes. When a worldview is presented in front of us by somebody else, I often feel like it’s a paradigm shift. Of course, reputation and creditability have a huge impact on this, but what if they didn’t? What if we take what we’ve learned up to today and use our own judgment and choose to move forward by what we read and create something remarkable?

Ironically, I’ve recently finished reading Seth Godin’s latest, Linchpin along with re-reading Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind… back to back.

This has been very good for me, as for I’ve needed to step further into my creative (or lack thereof) side of life and out of my over-analytical logic based left brain. In addition to rewriting my first book and finishing up the outline for my second book, I’ve been racking my brain (or brains so-to-speak) to create something meaningful, something that will help others based on what I’ve learned and allow for it to be absolutely remarkable…even if it’s small.

Seth Godin has expressed 7 attributes which he feels are what indispensable leaders need to possess. I have taken some notes and highlighted them here:

1. The ability to provide a unique interface between the members of the organization.

Your organization is a network. What holds it together and why? Making sure that everybody is there for the right reasons. A mission…the tribe knows where they are going and racking up accomplishments along the way. An indispensable leader help lead while he or she connects with the organization. The organization also needs to include the customers and prospects…providing the bridge from the outside world to the company.

2. Being able to deliver unique creativity.

Creativity is personal, original, unexpected, and useful. It requires domain knowledge and trust. Being able to deliver unique creativity is the most challenging part…not only to help the organization grow as a team but to also allow for us to continue being indispensable.

3. The courage to manage a situation or organization of great complexity.

When situations get complex, there is no manual, or some say “no map.” Indispensable leaders make their own maps and find the way as they continue to focus on the tribes objective(s).

4. Demonstrating the ability to lead customers.

We are living in times where markets are shifting and audiences are spreading out. Consumers are seeking engagement. They are looking for people to follow. The traditional (or 20th century if you will) model of commerce defined a brand and a team of people goes sell it to those who are willing to buy. It’s a very static approach and definitely a one-way transaction. “Here is the latest widget… take it or leave it” and at the end of the day, it’s still a widget. The 21st-century model is very fluid, interactive and decentralized. Meaning, organizations need more than what they’ve been used to. It means that every person that interacts with a consumer, or a business, or even other team members who work from within needs to be focused on marketing as leadership. There is no script, no manual, no map… just the ability to lead.

5. Inspiring staff

A friend and I were having a conversation the other day and some of Newton’s Laws came up. This got me to somehow relate the laws to teams and their efforts. A team at rest tends to stay at rest and forward motion is not the default state of any group of people, especially large groups of people. When there are many levels of management, politics and such all become a factor and then before you know it…everything seems to slow down due to excessive process. If the work environment is that of an industrial platform, a factory or manufacturing facility, then this isn’t much of a problem, as for the owner or foreman controls the department heads, and the department heads oversee his or her shift leaders and so on.

6. Providing domain knowledge.

Combining knowledge with smart decisions and generous contributions can change the way things are done. Strategy and motivation, combined with emotion and confidence allow for the map makers of our society be able to contribute to our organizations in ways that allow for everyone to understand the meaning, the common goal so deeply.

7. Possessing a unique talent.

Leaders need to be able to see things that the follower doesn’t already. Possessing a unique talent/skill allows for a team to collaborate creatively and effectively. When seeds are planted, beautiful things begin to grow. It is up to us to decide how we are going to nurture and manicure it.

I am very interested in your to share your voice on this matter. How do you see these abilities playing a role in your life?

Using Simplicity To Stimulate Innovation

steve levitt wbf2010Co-author of the bestseller Freakonomics, Steve Levitt, took the stage at the World Business Forum to share stories about tax fraud, passing gas, and prostitution. This was definitely not a typical economics discussion, but a great storytelling experience. He expressed how some of the best ideas in business today are also the simplest ones.

“The best ideas are the simplest ones, and after you hear them they’re totally obvious, yet they evade us for years and years and years. You don’t have to be Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking to have great ideas. You just have to think and keep your eyes open.” ~ Steve Levitt

He said the problem most businesses have is that they don’t make time to step back and think about things like academics within the organizations.

“As an academic, I do nothing,” Steve said. “I am in the classroom 60 hours a year. Other than that I can do whatever I want and can think about ideas. In most workplaces, people have jobs to do and that gets in the way of thinking and creating innovative ideas.” One company that bucks that trend is Google, which encourages employees to spend 20 percent of their time on new ideas. This has led to Google Maps and other tools for the company.

Also, academics dedicate their time working on one question incredibly well. In business, people have hundreds of questions to answer by the end of the week. With that much volume, it’s hard to answer each question well. In some cases, just an answer is sufficient.

Levitt said he is jealous of businesses because they have their own data to work with. “Businesses create their own data,” he said. “As an academic I have to sit back and wait for it.” While businesses have a lot of data, many companies tend to make big decisions without feedback or metrics in place to learn about what they’ve done. He recommends that for every decision, companies should answer the question, “in a month, will I know if that was a good decision or bad decision?” Otherwise the data is just data, not insight.

The most striking difference between academics and business in Levitt’s view is that academics come from a perspective of “I don’t know,” he said. “Meanwhile, the phrase “I don’t know” is the least common phrase in business. It seems that everyone’s job is to pretend they know the answer.

He challenged the audience at Radio City Music Hall to repeat the phrase to themselves at least once a day, and to also encourage employees to do it. Once they say it, it allows them to step back and experiment with new ideas. “If you can never admit you don’t know the answers to questions, you can never get better.”

Something I found interesting and brave (to say the least), was that he left the audience with brief personal story. A story about his meeting with a call girl (for business purposes), and how he advised her to raise her fee with no adverse impact on business. She just needed to take a step back and think about it.

Take a moment to step back and look how you can simplify your innovative passions. How would you do it and how would you help others simplify their goals?

Three Items About Social Technologies

charlene li wbf2010Co-founder of Altimeter Group, Charlene Li, spoke on the first day at the World Business Forum. She passionately expressed the value of social technologies.

“Social technologies are all about the relationships you can form.”

Here are a few items of interest and advice from Charlene Li:

1. What social technologies does better than anything else is create, foster, and build relationships. They enable authentic and transparent relationships.

2. You can’t control personal relationships, so don’t think you can control business relationships. In fact, you have to give up control in the social space, but you have to still be in command. To do this you have to inspire and lead your customers.

3. You simply cannot put a Return On Investment on a tweet. Make sure you’re asking the right questions when thinking about what to measure regarding the value of social technologies.

The one thing that stood out about Charlene was the connection she made with the audience. Her sincerity and passion poured out effortlessly. She focused on the importance of emotional intelligence within communities, both personally and professionally.

How do you use social technologies to enhance your relationships?