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4 Things Nobody Tells Leaders: Part 1

Date Published

Jul 18, 2017
6 minute read

While managers typically receive training on how to manage, they don’t always receive training on how to lead. Understanding universal patterns of group behavior will help managers become extraordinary leaders. The Clearing’s Founder, Chris McGoff, identifies these patterns as The PRIMES, and explains how leaders can use The PRIMES to effectively communicate and solve problems. In this first post of a two-part blog series, we will identify some unanticipated difficulties that leaders face, and how The PRIMES can help leaders manage them. 

1. Differentiate Between Leading and Managing

When placed in an executive position, even the most tenured employee can struggle with leading and managing. Unlike managing day-to-day operations, leading involves setting strategic direction, and inspiring employees to take action. The LEADING PRIME describes why it is important to separate leading from managing, and identifies the four components of leading:

  • Setting strategic direction
  • Aligning resources
  • Inspiring action
  • Being accountable for results

Because people are often so concerned with managing daily operations, leading is often pushed to the side. Rather than just making sure a task is completed, you should provide feedback and empower employees to make their own decisions about how best to complete their work so they can learn and grow. Make it a priority to lead your team, not just manage them.

2. Right vs. Right Dilemmas Can’t Be Avoided

All leaders will face right versus right dilemmas at some point. These types of dilemmas are especially difficult since there isn’t a wrong answer. It may be a matter of balancing what’s good for the short term versus what’s good for the long term or what’s good for the part versus what’s good for the whole. When you are stuck trying to determine which right is appropriate path forward, you can use the RESOLUTION PRINCIPLES PRIME. There are three approaches to choose from when facing a right versus right dilemma:

  • Ends-based: Select the option that generates the most good for the most people
  • Rule-based: Choose as if you’re creating a universal standard
  • Care-based: Choose as if you were the one most affected by your decision

When you have identified a right versus right dilemma, review the three approaches and choose the one that feels most right. Make your team aware of Resolution Principles and help them apply the one that best fits to any situation in their life.

3. Culture is Created Intentionally

To function at their best, groups need to be intentional, active, and explicit about their culture. Leaders are the ones responsible for intentionally fostering and modeling the behaviors that they’d like to see in their groups. High-performance cultures are made up of the following five characteristics, as identified by the CULTURE PRIME:

  • They don’t tolerate gossip. Gossip is pure, destructive energy. Gossip is eliminated when nobody listens to it anymore.
  • They know how to forge consensus. As long as people believe the decision-making process was fair and they were treated well, they can live with the outcome regardless if they like it or not.
  • Members live in integrity with one another. When members say they will do something, they do it. A culture of integrity is essential in producing extraordinary results.
  • They don’t tolerate “victim” attitudes. Victims identify when a group begins to lose power by complaining about things it can’t affect, and blaming others for its own lack of effectiveness.
  • They quickly recognize and clean up any breach of integrity. Quickly acknowledge whenever a breach occurs to reestablish integrity, and restore an individual’s place in the group.

To make sure that the group travels down the right cultural path, leaders must act in congruence with their desired values and priorities. The CONGRUENCE PRIME helps organizations understand how their actions must back up their words in order to keep culture consistent and encourage each member to take ownership of the group’s outcomes.

4. Great Leaders Use Multiple Leadership Styles

While we think of leaders as having one leadership style, the best leaders are the ones who master multiple leadership styles and use them in different situations. The LEADERSHIP SPECTRUM PRIME identifies four primary decision-making processes that leaders should master:

  • Command and Control: Use this leadership style when the bullets start flying. When the situation is urgent and the stakes are high, someone has to take Command and Control to evacuate a building on fire. This leadership style is best for decisions that must be made immediately and when there isn’t time for other people’s input. You shouldn’t use Command and Control as often as other styles.
  • Informed Command and Control: This leadership style works well in situations that are still urgent, but where the stakes are lower, such as when an organization is developing a strategy session on short notice and deciding what topics to cover in a limited timeframe.
  • Limited Consensus: Use this style for low-stakes strategic planning, such as choosing between competing, but similar health insurance plans.
  • Consensus: Put this in your pocket for high-stakes strategic planning and visioning that will affect a large number of stakeholders, like creating a five-year plan for taking a new company into the marketplace.

When approaching any situation, think about which leadership style is most appropriate to use. Good leaders recognize that they have a preferred style, but are disciplined in mastering and applying the full range of styles as warranted by the circumstances.

Stay tuned for our next post of this blog series for four more leadership tools and tips that will help you in your leadership role.

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