The Five Key Facets of
by Brian Ward
What are the key facets of quality leadership? Here are the ones that we
have distilled from our research and practice ... we call it the FACET Leadership
Focus - Authenticity
- Courage - Empathy
Effective leaders stay focused on the outcomes they wish to create,
and don't get too married to the methods used to achieve them. They
provide this 'outcomes focus' for their organization by emphasizing the mission,
vision and strategic goals of their organization and at the same time building
the capacity of their organizations to achieve them. This capacity building
emphasizes the need to be flexible, creative and innovative and avoid becoming
fossilized through the adoption of bureaucratic structures, policies and processes.
Leaders who are authentic attract followers, even leaders who are viewed as
being highly driven and difficult to work for. Simply put, they are viewed
as always being themselves … and therefore followers know what to expect from
them and can rely on them, come thick or thin. Authenticity provides the leader
with the currency to obtain 'buy-in' from key stakeholders, because it builds
and maintains trust.
The challenges facing leaders are immense, and require great courage to overcome.
Leaders are constantly being challenged by others, be it their own team, customers,
the public or other stakeholders. Standing firm in the face of criticism,
and having the courage to admit when they are wrong are hallmarks of courageous
leaders. For example, shifting an organization from being introspective to
becoming customer focused requires courage when people pay lip service to
the new direction ... it means calling people on their bluff.
Effective leaders know how to listen empathetically … thus legitimizing others'
input. By doing so, they promote consensus building, and build strong teams.
They coach others to do the same, and so create a culture of inclusiveness.
But they don't get bogged down in overly complicated dialogue. They know when
to 'fish or cut bait', which brings us on to the final facet ...
The single most critical facet is in knowing when to make critical decisions
and when not to. All of the other facets must be viewed as subservient to
getting the timing of critical decisions right. There is a time to be focused,
authentic, courageous and empathetic, but get the timing wrong on critical
decisions and everything else is nullified. Great leaders move with appropriate
speed. They don't believe that everything must be done immediately ... they
know how to prioritize, and how to get their team to prioritize. As well,
they engage in timely follow-through to ensure actions that are committed
to happen in a well-coordinated and timely way.
These facets of quality leadership are not exhaustive. Just as one would
look at the facets of a diamond, upon closer observation other facets become
observable. Any person can aspire to being a great leader by commencing with
these facets. If you are in a leadership role, regardless of your position
in your organization, start by asking yourself the following key questions:
1. How focused am I?
How much of my time do I spend communicating and inspiring people about our
mission, vision and strategic goals? How much focus do I create in my organization?
How married am I/my organization to methods that have outlived their usefulness?
2. Am I viewed as authentic?
Do people see and hear the real me? Do I wear a mask at work, and remove it
when I leave each evening?
3. How courageous am I when my values, vision and goals are challenged?
Do I stand firm and only change my position when I know that I am wrong?
4. How empathetic am I?
Too much/too little? Do I create enough opportunities for open and candid
dialogue? Do I ever find myself getting bogged down in consensus building,
or achieving false consensus? Is there a feeling of inclusiveness amongst
the members of my organization, and with other stakeholders, including customers?
5. Do I make and execute decisions in a timely fashion?
Do I know when to 'fish or cut bait?' - do I demand well coordinated and timely
execution of strategy from others?
Asking these questions in a candid way will open up many possibilities for
you and your organization ... if you have the courage to do it.
Brian Ward, C.H.R.P., is a principal in Affinity Consulting. He specializes
in assisting leaders and their teams develop and implement quality management
systems that are client focused, team directed and outcomes based. He can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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