Tuesday, July 29, 2008

LPV: Leadership Point of View

(The following was contributed by Mark S. Thanks, Mark, for taking the time to share your thoughts with the group. The "Pizza Lunch" that Mark refers to is a monthly lunchtime gathering of people who want to share ideas and thoughts about leadership.)


I brought up the topic of the importance of a “leadership point of view” (LPV) at one of our recent Dr. K. pizza lunches. This is a concept/phrase I learned in my Masters of Executive Leadership program at the USD School of Business and was coined by Ken Blanchard. Jim suggested I explain this idea further in this blog.

Developing a LPV is just another way of saying what do you really believe in, where did it come from, and how will you enact it in your business and personal lives? On the surface, this idea seems pretty basic, but it is amazing how few leaders have taken the time to really dig deep and answer the following questions:

Who are the influencers (leaders) in your life who have had a positive (or, in some cases, negative) impact on your life, such as parents, teachers, coaches, or bosses? What did you learn from these people about leadership?

Think of your life purpose. Why are you here, and what do you want to accomplish?

What are your core values that will guide your behavior as you attempt to live your life “on purpose”?

Given what you’ve learned from past leaders, your life purpose, and your core values, what are your beliefs about leading and motivating people?

What can your people expect from you?

What do you expect from your people?

How will you set an example for your people?

These questions are all important to explore in the role as an “authentic leader”.

Finally, at the end of exploring these questions, we all were required to share our LPV with the rest of the class. This was intended to be a precursor to sharing our LPV with the people we lead at work. It can’t be overstated how important it is for the folks you work with to learn more about their leaders - where they came from, what they value, what they expect from “you” and what you can expect from “me”.

(Editor. I just want to add a few words about "authenticity". Dr. Koestenbaum talks about Leadership being the sum of two vectors - Competence and Authenticity. Competence deals with skills and abilities, while authenticity deals with character. The questions that Mark has outlined above go to the heart of who you are. The answers become a way of examining your character. This exercise is well worth your time if you want to learn more about yourself.

Also, take a look at the Blog Entry titled Asking the Right Questions for more on this subject. Also you might find the short story at the bottom of that entry interesting.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Emotional Intelligence and the Leadership Diamond

In the highly acclaimed book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman, and his co-authors Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, describe the attributes of great leadership. In chapter one, in the first paragraph they say “Great leadership works through the emotions.”
This bold statement moves the discussion of leadership away from formulas and “how-to” manuals into the realm of the mind, and the human side of the workplace. Goleman says
No matter what leaders set out to do … their success depends on how they do it. Even if they get everything else just right, if leaders fail in this primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as well as it could or should.

Goleman and the co-authors go on to show how emotional intelligence (EI) includes elements of self-awareness and self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
As you read Goleman’s thoughts about leadership you discover that ethics and empathy play a huge role in defining great leadership. Words such as emotions, self-worth, transparency, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, flexibility, initiative, optimism, empathy, understanding, the needs of others, inspiration, and cooperation are used to describe the traits of great leaders.

Those of you who are familiar with the leadership diamond may be seeing the connection between the Ethics point of the Leadership Diamond and the characteristics of great leaders described by Goleman.
Goleman goes on to connect the Ethics and Vision points of the diamond by stating:
Of all the EI competencies… empathy matters most to visionary leadership. The ability to sense how others feel and to understand their perspectives means that a leader can articulate a truly inspirational vision.” (Primal Leadership, p. 59)

For those of you interested in how the human side of the Leadership Diamond works, I encourage you to pick up Goleman’s book, Primal Leadership, and give it a quick read. You will learn that great leadership (part of what creates an opportunity to achieve Greatness as defined by the Leadership Diamond) is a key factor in the success of an organization. Using your emotional intelligence, and being able to get in touch with the human side of the organization is an essential part of achieving "greatness". But, it does not take a Super Hero (male or female) to be a great leader. We all have the ability to bring our emotional intelligence to the forefront, and to create opportunities for our greatness within our organizations.
Goleman’s work is a valuable contribution to those trying to become great leaders, and leaders who can successfully apply the Leadership Diamond in their daily life.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The Ethics point on the Leadership Diamond is probably one of the most difficult to define. When we hear the word "Ethics" we immediately think of the most common meaning: the process of dealing with the difference between what is right an wrong, or the more philosophical use of the term related to existing within society's rules and morals. Although these definitions are helpful, when we use the term in relation to the Leadership Diamond we have an additional layer of meaning to consider.

Ethics, when used as part of the Leadership Diamond model means being of service, doing things that honor you and others as human beings, and understanding that people matter. Ethics incorporates empathy for others and understanding that there are principles that help us decide which path leads to integrity, trustworthiness, and keeping our promises. (The Philosophic Consultant, © 2003, p. 107-108).

In the larger world, a breach of ethics can lead to punishment and jail. This lapse in ethics usually means that laws have been broken, often for personal gain at the expense of others. This is what we saw with ENRON, Broadcom, and Tyco, just to name a few. It is also hundreds of cases of backdating stock options, misuse of corporate money, and other examples of fraud.

However, in the leadership world of Peter Koestenbaum, ethics goes deeper than the legal system. At its philosophical roots ethics contains empathy and principle. “Empathy is the struggle against emotional indifference. And principle is the fight against unscrupulous behavior.” (The Philosophic Consultant, © 2003, p. 108). Dr. Koestenbaum goes on to add that ethics involves “reaching out, understanding how other feel, and caring about that.” He also says that principle is “doing what is right, not necessarily what feels good, keeping promises, integrity, and being thoroughly trustworthy."

In its Leadership Diamond context, a breach of ethics could be a behavior that would be considered illegal, but it is more likely that this ethical slip would be a personal failure of character that would make it difficult for the person creating the breach to be a strong and effective leader.

If we look at the ethics of the law as the body, the ethics of the Leadership Diamond would be the sole. The two together make the complete person, and the effective leader.

The authors of the Successful Manager’s Handbook (Previsor, © 2004, p. 586-588) suggest that in order to make ethical decisions in business, a manager or leader must give thought in advance to a number of factors that will affect the decisions made in support of the business. These factors include:
  • The values involved for the individual, company, community
  • How different constituencies view the issues before you
  • What your values and code of ethics tell you about the decision you are about to make
  • The consequences of the various choices you might make
  • Listen to and consider the concerns of others
Finally, a leader should not leave the consideration of ethics and conduct until faced with a situation requiring immediate action. Devoting time to examining personal, organizational, and community values, morals and ethics, and developing your own code of ethics that supports your vision of what you are trying to create is essential to being able to use the strength of the Leadership Diamond in to create greatness in all that you do. 

(Note - Wikipedia has an interesting article on Ethics on its web site. Although Wikipedia is not known as a reliable source of information for academic purposes, you might find this summary of the philosophical view of ethics an interesting read.)