The Five Key Facets of Quality Leadership
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 Coaching Model™:

Focus - Authenticity - Courage - Empathy - Timing

Focus
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.

Authenticity
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.

Courage
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.

Empathy
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 ...

Timing
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:

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 brianward@affinitymc.com .

Collaborate...Build...Improve www.affinitymc.com

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