A recent blog post of ours began the discussion of this topic by presenting the three components of Leadership Effectiveness: Personal Effectiveness, Relational Effectiveness and Assertiveness. This post expands on Personal Effectiveness and its components. It is interesting that a recent HBR webinar relates to the first three components of Personal Effectiveness. It explains the differences between Promotion-Focused people and Prevention-Focused people and how they are motivated. Using these concepts effectively requires strong self-knowledge, emotional intelligence and an ability to identify strengths and opportunities.
An HBR blog and embedded webinar reinforce the emerging realization that sustainable competitive advantage is a thing of the past. In the 21st Century, winning companies are those that capitalize quickly on new opportunities while finding future one’s. In today’s world, the only competitive advantage is people, beginning with leadership, bringing to urgency the need to develop leaders and keep them.
There are five components within Personal Effectiveness, and they are all critical. While individuals will exhibit some of these more strongly than others, a meaningful weakness in any of them will seriously undermine Personal Effectiveness.
Without Personal Effectiveness, there is no opportunity to exude confidence and spark others to feel secure in the leader’s convictions. Personal Effectiveness can be undervalued in the business world where quantifiable data tend to usurp more qualitative measures. Yet, the qualities that differentiate the individual who advances more successfully from the one who does not are deeply grounded in Personal Effectiveness. Given similar education and experience, there is something more compelling about some leaders than others, and the difference lies in the recognition of Personal Effectiveness.
The first two of the five components of Personal Effectiveness are discussed here.
Knowing Self and Using Self Knowledge
This encompasses the ability of a leader to understand his or her authentic self and to be able to use that self-knowledge in interpersonal settings. This includes knowing your values and behaving according to them. Others will know if a leader is not bringing his or her authentic self to the party. Likewise, lack of consistently applied values will undermine trust thus decreasing Personal Effectiveness. Many leaders do not devote the time to achieve and use this self-knowledge or seek the help – coaching, assessments or sometimes even therapy – that they may need to attain it.
At first blush, this may be hard to believe. In fact, it was not until recently that we came to see this with real clarity. Over the last couple of years, we have participated in detailed personality and 360 degree assessments of senior executives. Repeatedly, otherwise extremely talented executives struggled to understand their authentic selves and to share it with their colleagues. Interestingly, once we pointed this out to them, they were able to quickly grasp both the attribute they were missing and its importance.
The key point here is to think about early intervention. These executives were well beyond mid-career and had already missed many opportunities because of this major blind spot. If the goal is to accelerate development of leaders, this issue need to be addressed far earlier in career.
This term has been defined in a myriad of ways. A worthy definition is the ability of an individual to recognize and manage his or her emotions and those of others. A leader who can do this will be able to recognize and manage emotional reactions in a positive way, thus harnessing the emotional power of self and others rather than perceiving it as a barrier. The literature demonstrates that emotional intelligence and the underlying competencies that support it can be learned.
Let’s bring this point to life. The most important things that leaders do are decision making and communicating. To make good decisions requires both intellect and knowledge. It also requires the ability to understand the people who will need to implement the decision as well as those it will affect. Both of these latter aspects require emotional intelligence. It takes great discipline to understand people at an emotional level. The ability to do this is a powerful leadership tool.
The same can be said for communication, whether to an individual or a group. Understanding the audience at an emotional level enables the leaders to address concerns in a different kind of way that builds trust and connects to people’s hearts and minds.
More to come. …