Here is an excerpt from an article written by Marcus Buckingham for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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Virtually every corporate and academic leadership development program is founded on the same model — we call it the formulaic model. It tries to collect all the various approaches to leadership, shaves off the weird outliers, and packages the rest into a formula. The notion behind all this is simple: The right way to lead is out there. A best-practice model exists. Once we discover it and turn it into a formula, development is just a matter of bringing you in line with that formula.
We need a new model — one that is scalable but accommodates the uniqueness of each leader’s techniques; one that is stable enough to permit the training of hundreds of leaders at once but dynamic enough to incorporate and distribute new practices and other innovations in real time
But is that possible? The answer is yes. Over the past couple of years, many organizations have begun doing just that. The effort at Hilton Worldwide’s focused-service brands — Hampton, Homewood Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, and Home2 Suites — is a good example. My company worked with Phil Cordell, the head of those brands, to create an algorithmic model of leadership development and an app that sustains personalized learning.
We started by creating a tool for identifying each person’s leadership type. That type then became the filter through which some, though not all, leadership development content is delivered. We designed an algorithm within StandOut, our online strengths-assessment tool. StandOut is a situational judgment test, meaning that people indicate their likeliest response to a series of situations. By focusing on behaviors, this type of test captures how people come across to others better than assessments that ask respondents to rate themselves on a variety of traits.
Then, we gave the assessment to the company’s best leaders. Our analysis showed that the range of behaviors seen across those thousands of people could be divided into nine categories, which we call strength roles. These represent the most common ways specific strengths cluster and combine in individual leaders. Next, we interviewed a cross section of leaders to discover their leadership techniques.
This is where the algorithm comes in. You can use an algorithm to target techniques to the right people. Companies should assess all developing leaders and feed each one practices derived from excellent leaders who have the same leadership type.
Our algorithm draws on a constantly growing database of concepts, innovations, and practices and pushes them out to leaders as a series of techniques they might try. Because the suggestions reflect only what has worked for others who “look like” the recipients, they accelerate creativity without eroding authenticity.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
To check out the wealth of resources at Marcus’s website, please click here.
Marcus Buckingham is the founder of TMBC, a company that builds strengths-based tools and training for managers. He is the author of several WSJ and NYT bestsellers, including his latest book and accompanying strengths assessment, StandOut: Find your Edge, Win at Work.
Rather than give up or give in, how to break free from self-inflicted limits and “flip to the next stage”
Two months before Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death was published in 1974, he died of cancer at age 49. The core concept in his book is that no one can deny physical death. Only the suicide can control when. However, there is another form of death than can be denied: That which occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others’ expectations of us.
I thought of that as I read Ginny Whitelaw’s Introduction to The Zen Leader in which she urges her reader — under intense and severe pressure by others to perform “leaner, smarter, faster, cheaper” — not give up or give in. Use the pressure rather than be used by it to “propel breakthrough development and leaps to new consciousness, to “give way” to a “radical” reframing and inversion — a “flip that takes many forms.” For example, transitions such as these: from coping with constant pressure from outside-in to “diving right in and transforming situations from inside-out”; from exhausting oneself and others from the relentless drive for results to “attracting the future and people who help create it; and from being one’s personality to [begin italics] seeing [end italics] one’s personality “and applying the right kind of energy to any situation.”
Whitelaw provides ten “Zen Leader Flip” mini-tutorials to help her reader to “break free and flip to the next stage” of personal development. More specifically, to complete transitions from…
1. Coping to Transforming (Pages 32-35)
2. Tension to Extension (47-51)
3. Or to And (72-75)
4. “Out here” to “In Here” (91-97)
5. Playing to Your Strengths to Strengthening Your Play (125-129)
6. Controlling to Connecting (141-146)
7. From Driving Results to Attracting the Future (171-179)
8. “It’s All About Me” to “I’m All About It”
9. Local Self to Whole Self (228-232)
10. Delusion to Awakening (250-253)
Following each of the ten “Zen Leader Flip” min-tutorials, Whitelaw thoughtfully provides a “Takeaways” section listing key points and five tips for converting problems to opportunities. This material will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of essentials later.
Make no mistake about how immensely complicated and deeply profound this process is. That is why Whitelaw provides a wealth of information, insights, and wisdom that, she fervently hopes, will help leaders and those aspiring to leaders to complete a transformation from “barely managing” to “leading fearlessly.” Here are a few of the dozens of passages that caught my eye:
o The challenges of transformation (Pages 29-32)
o Why tension produces movement — until it doesn’t (41-43)
o The Zen Leader/Core Practices: “Centering Mini-Break” (54-55), “Sitting Meditation” (101-102), “Invitation to Samadhi” (153-157), and “All Patterns at Once” (183-184)
o Why “healthy tension” is the point (65-68)
o “A World of Our Making” (81-84)
o “The Illusion of Control” (136-138)
o “It’s Always About Fear” (242-243)
No brief commentary such as this one could possibly do full justice to the scope and depth of material that Ginny Whitelaw provides in abundance. It remains for each reader to read the book with care and consideration. Also, it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to apply immediately everything learned while reading the book. Rather, “give way” to whatever touches the heart as well as stimulates the mind. Meanwhile, keep in mind that development of Zen leadership is an on-going process rather than a specific destination. Finally, when considering or now embarked on that journey of personal development, keep in mind Oscar Wilde’s suggestion: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”