Why leadership balance is a business imperative
We have asked 10,000 + leaders, in over twenty-five countries, a simple question:
"What are the qualities of the best leader you have ever worked for?"
Two key results emerge.
First, successful leaders empower the head; enable the hand; engage the heart; and enrich the spirit. Lack of attention (or capability) in any one domain and team members/subordinates are short-changed on all four. It matters not, for example, that you have a great strategy (head) if execution (hand) is found wanting.
The second insight speaks to leadership balance (coherence). Balance describes performance excellence in each of the four domains. It is also about how those domains combine. Specifically, how the head and hand; the hand and heart; the heart and spirit; and the spirit and head come together.
HEAD & HAND - The Hunting Ground:
- Theme: if you don't win today there will be no tomorrow.
- Actions: clear direction, the drive to win, customer focus, a differentiated value proposition, the discipline of delivery.
- Mindset: it's fun to win.
- Greatest potential disruption: lack of focus.
- Balance: without the head and hand, know that your future will be shaped by missed targets.
HAND & HEART - Breaking New Ground:
- Theme: doing what you have always done is a mandate for mediocrity.
- Actions: growth, stretch, business development, cost savings, continuous improvement, technology, redefining process, putting new learning into practice.
- Mindset: getting better every day, in every way.
- Greatest potential disruption: assumptions that competitive advantage has an extended shelf-life.
- Balance: without the hand and heart the status quo will inevitably rule.
HEART & SPIRIT - The Playground:
- Theme: if you don't grow the talent base you can't grow the business.
- Actions: pushing the boundaries, learning at the edge, teamwork, coaching, mentoring, collaboration, leadership of self, authenticity, caring.
- Mindset: how you learn is at least as important as what you learn.
- Greatest potential disruption: a bully in the playground.
- Balance: without the heart and spirit expect to always be short of top talent.
SPIRIT & HEAD - Moving To Higher Ground:
- Theme: tomorrow's marketplace will be different. Count on it!
- Actions: rethinking possibility, forging a new direction, succession, innovation, risk, emotional buy-in, commitment, letting go.
- Mindset: entrepreneurial.
- Greatest potential disruption: lack of succession.
- Balance: without the spirit and the head, know that you are passing the baton of opportunity to the competition.
It's not enough for the leader to communicate where we are heading. Gaining buy-in has to draw on language, imagery and story. To inspire is to make tomorrow's success come alive in the room today. If you can imagine it, you can implement it. If you can see it, you can be it. To inspire, the leader has to believe and convey with every strand of their DNA, not that this needs to happen – but that it will happen.
It's not enough to push for development and growth. To inspire, the leader has to display a personal passion for learning. Leaders are readers. They give full reign to their own sense of curiosity and draw it out in others. They see resilience not as bouncing back after a setback but learning from the experience and, as a result, being better equipped than ever. They build great teams. They ask great questions and, in doing so, transform what is into what can be.
It's not enough that the leader be respected. To inspire, they have to step down from the pedestal, look people in the eye and act in such a way that those they lead know, really know, that they care more about their success than their own. To lead is to care. Caring is step one in engendering trust.
Good leaders will engage some of the team, some of the time. Conversely, it takes a leader who brings leadership balance to the role, who knows how to inspire, who does inspire – to instil a sense of lasting commitment from all of the team. Leaders must lead! Leaders do lead. Are you the leader they need?
As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.