The Leadership Academy

Inspiring and Developing Exceptional Leaders

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    The frequency with which academics purport to discover something new never ceases to amaze me. However, often after analysis, the ‘discovery’ proves to be (to confuse an analogy) just the emperor wearing different clothes.

    A recent example is the ‘discovery’ by Messrs Dave Ulrich, Jack Zenger and Norm Smallwood, in their book Results-Based Leadership published by the Harvard Business School Press, that leadership is all about achieving results! So what’s new? Leadership has always been about achieving results. Good leaders have always been focussed on changing things for the better; and they have always been concerned with the future rather than the past.

    If you think these comments are rather cynical, then perhaps you are right. The book however, contains many good ideas to assist leaders in the development of their management skills, and this is the real value of the work. Remember our teaching that while leadership is different from management, leaders have to be credible managers if they are to achieve results in the workplace, and the book supports this view. It is well worth reading and I commend it to you for the management insights it contains.

    Academics also like to quantify things and the authors have developed a simple formula to illustrate their proposition:

    Effective leadership = attributes x results

    They consider the attributes required by leaders to be qualities such as habits, traits, competencies, behaviours, styles, motives, values, skills and character. While these are necessary, they are not the only requirement. Leaders must also achieve measurable results, and both are important. They illustrate their proposition by assigning a score to both attributes and results. For example:

    Attributes X results = effective leadership
    10 4 = 40
    4 10 = 40
    10 10 = 100

    We at The Leadership Academy agree with this notion and have been using the concept in our experiential leadership training since the early 1990s. As those who have attended our courses will recall, we deal with the theories and attributes and then challenge participants to put them into practice. We then analyse the results of the activities and relate the lessons learned from the results to the workplace. Your challenge is to continue the process within your own work environment.


    Peter McDougall