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Leadership with a Big L – 4 Keys to Leading When it is Your "Job"
by On July 21, 2008

Roger SeipLeadership with a big L is the kind of leadership that comes with a title: Manager, Vice President, Director, CEO etc. It is when you are responsible for a group of people and providing direction to a predetermined result in a business, church, school or family. I’m going to share 4 keys that apply to anyone who’s in charge of anything involving more than one person. Is that you? I bet it is…..

These 4 keys come from an incredible book I read last year called The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, by Patrick Lencioni. I would highly, highly, highly recommend this book (actually I’d recommend anything written by Mr. Lencioni) for anyone who leads an organization. In it he tells a fable about a CEO who observes 4 disciplines religiously, and they make his company remarkable in every way. Here they are:

Build a Cohesive Team
The principle of having a real team that runs the show is first on the list for creating organizational health. This not only involves having the right people on board, it also means that it’s OK to fight. In fact, arguing passionately and then coming to a decision is THE defining characteristic of a business team that gets results. You cannot be a team if you’re not real, and real people disagree on things. Meanness and disrespect are not acceptable, but constructive conflict is necessary.

Be Clear
Great organizations have “organizational clarity”. This is a crystal clear sense of who they are, what they Value, what they’re accomplishing and how they go about accomplishing it. This kind of clarity does not happen by accident. The most vital use of a leader’s time is when he or she meditates on these concepts and develop systems to make them a reality. One of my coaching clients uses the TTTT acronym as a reminder to Take Time To Think. Good advice.

Over Communicate
This is maybe my favorite Leadership tidbit of the last year (yes, as President of a training company, I still have a ton to learn and improve on, so I study). The third discipline is to over communicate on issues of organizational clarity (see #2). When it comes to things like Values, Vision, major goals and strategy, it is nearly impossible to go too far. Here’s the rule of thumb: when a leader talks about these things so much that she thinks her people will kill her if she mentions them again, that’s when everyone is just starting to get it.

Reinforce Organizational Clarity through Systems
As simple as the first three disciplines seem, they are still disciplines. This means that if a human being (especially just one human being) is solely responsible for continuing them, there will eventually be a breakdown. The only way to make these or any discipline permanent is to develop a system that will make the right things happen automatically. I’ve often said that the really important things in Life and Business are typically very simple. Simple does not mean easy, so systemize as much as possible.

If we had more time and space, I could go on and on about these disciplines and how they’ve helped me as a leader, but I’ll let the book do the rest of the talking from here. Again, I’d recommend any of Lencioni’s books to deepen your understanding but, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable will keep you busy for a while.

Be Free!

Roger Seip
VP of Product Development

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