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Ordinary Leadership Week Notes: Have two leadership gears

Weeknote: 26.06.23

What leadership themes stood out this week

The idea of two leadership gears. This HBR article on the importance of having two leadership gears, in essence, knowing when to give instructions and when to listen, helped to frame an observation I’ve had about leadership behaviour. What I’ve observed is that individuals, including myself, prefer one leadership style, and we tend to then find evidence that helps us explain the value of that style. In doing so we miss the value of different styles, and in particular, the need to provide direction or to consult when necessary.

Three interesting leadership ideas/quotes from the week

The concept of five different problem solvers in a team: The adventurer (confidently and optimistically follows their intuition, making decisions quickly—sometimes too quickly); the detective (data-driven and methodical, but may undervalue intuition and collaboration; the listener (collaborative and trusting, find it difficult to tune into their own opinions or express viewpoints that might be at odds with others); the thinker (thrives on multiple paths and possible outcomes, always asking why can slow things down); and, the visionary (have a big vision, but may overvalue outside-the-box solutions).

Top performance doesn’t come from 100% effort all the time. This article was really interesting – in essence, we should ask people to give 85% effort if we want high performance. It aligns with other thinking I’ve heard about high performance (i.e., the idea that high performance is stress plus rest). The rationale is that you need to limit burnout and need set boundaries so that people can come to work energised. In my own life, I often see this when I’ve had a busy period; if I don’t find time to reset, I run out of energy and become less effective. What’s interesting to me is that it has taken me a long time to realise this. I also like the point about “checking your power”’; actively asking your team, “How am I making your work more stressful than it needs to be?” Then take the necessary actions to improve upon the situation.

Building leadership presence. I’ve been thinking about my personal presence and how I develop it. The more I’ve played different leadership roles, the more I’ve experimented with how I build up my leadership presence – in management positions and when I’m not in one. The HBR article on building personal presence has some interesting pointers about clear communication (and I would also say honest communication), behaving with integrity, and being authentic (aligned with your identity). The one that I often find the most interesting is the question of purpose. I find it really interesting in my coaching conversations how often purpose comes up, but also how much everyone struggles to articulate purpose. The more I think about it, the more I sense that it’s about being clear about what motivates you and working towards that – not some grander purpose (e.g. changing the world).

Helpful leadership links from the week


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