Part III: The Art and Science of Leadership

Blog Post Transformational Leadership

We have already distinguished between the “doing” and the “being” of leadership. Said another way, the SCIENCE involves the mechanics of leadership while the ART would include the individual style or unique demonstration of an individual leader.

What is Leadership, or being a leader, really?
A leader may exude many characteristics that are commonly regarded as necessary traits or attributes of leadership, such as charisma, ability to take control, or courage. While these common characteristics are important in leadership, they don’t define leaders. The dictionary says a leader is:

  • the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country
  • an organization or company that is the most advanced or successful in a particular area: a leader in the use of video conferencing.

Obvious, right? So why doesn’t mastery of a particular area guarantee you a leadership role? Consider this definition…

A leader is someone who causes a future to happen that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

A leader can see a future worth playing for, with possible pathways but not necessarily a clearly defined road map. It’s a future of “what if” and possibility and vision and inspiration.

In Part Two we explored the dynamic of having one’s eye on the future as an essential ingredient of leadership. It is a critical aspect, because in reality, all the “science” of leadership could really be delegated to masterful managers and not require leaders.

Next steps?
So how does a leader bring this envisioned future to a tangible future? Through actions. How many brilliant ideas or concepts are left lying on the conference room floor, never actualized, because there was no specific request or promise made to move towards that future? The only thing that impacts results is action.

But preceding action, here are some important first steps:

  1. Create a vivid WHY for the future
    • Ask one of the following questions about the future:
      1. What difference would it make?
      2. What value could it bring?
      3. Why does it matter?
      4. Why is that important?
      • The “so what” game. With each response to one of the questions in #1, ask “so what” and tease the answer out until it gets more and more potent.
    • Explore the possible pathways to that future state, opportunities and avenues for fulfillment – go wide and deep, without judgment or feasibility.
    • Select a few pathways to pursue – do one or two things really well, rather than many things just okay. You can always come back and select new or additional pathways.
    • Create the best possible team – the right people with the right skills in the right job – to execute on those several opportunities.
    • Identify what actions and commitments are necessary to fulfill on the opportunities, and then have people make promises of what they’ll do and by when, or make requests of others to take a specific action and by when.

    In the background, there are a few things to keep present.

    1. Have your succession lens on, all the time. Strive to create leaders who will surpass you, who will stand on your shoulders and create even bigger and bolder futures.
    2. Have regular (daily, weekly) pulse checks for inspiration. Ask for examples of inspiration (experienced or caused). Weave “Moments of Inspiration” into every meeting.

    Continue to move from concept to action – it will build a bridge to the future NOW.

    Discussion