Leadership By Knowledge
“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” — Plato
Managing employees is not easy. I have said this numerous times in numerous blog posts and articles. In order to manage and coach employees, you have to want to manage and coach employees. And if you actually want to manage and coach employees, you will do what you need to do in order to become better at the task at hand. One thing is for sure, managing by the seat of your pants doesn’t work!
This is why there are so many management and leadership classes, seminars, books, articles, blogs, etc. There are many good resources out there and there are many managers who utilize them in an attempt to be better managers and coaches. That’s the beginning of management by knowledge. Amazon’s top 10 books on management and leadership cover topics such as qualities of a leader, techniques for building quick rapport, laws of leadership, mistakes leaders make, and leadership principles.
Qualities of a Good Leader
The vast majority of these books talk about qualities that make great leaders or characteristics that you need to emulate to be a great or better leader. One of the books outlines 21 qualities necessary for better leadership. Some of these qualities are character, commitment, communication, attitude, problem-solving, self-discipline, and discernment to mention a few. Very good and valuable information for sure. But, how do you know if you have all or some of these qualities? You certainly can’t improve on something unless you have a baseline to start with.
Now, let’s take it one step further. What if you could identify whether you have some or most of these qualities. Would that make you a good leader? Can you be a good leader if those who report to you don’t think you are? Would they be wrong?
The answers are yes, no, and maybe. By definition, if you have the majority of the 21 characteristics of a good leader, you are a good leader. So, yes. However, if those who report to you don’t believe or see those characteristics, then you are not a good leader. So, no. But, if some of your direct reports see the qualities and see you using them, in their eyes you are a good leader. And if others don’t see the qualities or that you are using them, in their eyes you are not a good leader. So, maybe.
So, it comes down to a few things.
What’s Your Leadership Baseline?
First, is finding out your baseline. Which of the qualities do you possess? A good place to start would be by taking a DISC profile assessment. DISC does a very good job at identifying your behavioral hierarchy, or better put, 12 traits of behavior and how strong or weak you are in each one. DISC will identify how strong you are in the following areas:
Urgency, Versatility, Frequent Change, Competitiveness, Frequent Interaction With Others, People Oriented, Customer Relations, Analysis of Data, Consistency, Following Policy, Follow Up and Follow Through, and Organized Workplace. DISC identifies “how” you do your job and many of the qualities identified for being a good leader are included in these behavior styles.
But don’t stop there. Second, identify “why” you do what you do as that also fits in with the leadership characteristics. There are many motivation assessments out there. They may call the motivations by different names, but they all come down to the same six things all people are motivated by. Some assessments go further and identify the driving forces behind the motivation. For example, the six identified motivators are Knowledge (learning), Utility (ROI), Surroundings (the world around you), Others (helping), Power (recognition), and Methodologies (ways of doing things). However, the driving forces further identify why you are motivated by one of the six. For example, you can be motivated by helping “Others.” But you do it for one of two reasons — one you are a truly altruistic person, or two, you get something out of it. Another example would be “Knowledge.” People want to learn for two reasons. They either have a thirst to learn new things or they learn new things when they have to. Knowing the difference helps identify the true motivator.
But wait, there’s more. Third, identify your soft skills and competencies and see what characteristics fit in with those. One assessment shows 25 skills/competencies and identifies which ones are well developed, developed, somewhat developed, and need development. Those include Employee Development/Coaching, Negotiation, Teamwork, Understanding Others, Conflict Management, Leadership, Influencing Others, Personal Accountability, Self-Starting, Futuristic Thinking, Goal Orientation, Continuous Learning, Flexibility, Decision Making, Resiliency, and Problem Solving to name a few.
Now You Having Something to Work With
Now you would have a pretty good understanding of yourself and how your behavior style, driving forces, and skills/competencies compare to those of a good leader. TTI Success Insights® offers one assessment that measures all three of the areas mentioned above. Once you know what you have and what you don’t have, you can address what you don’t have and improve based on your baseline. Don’t expect improvement to happen overnight, it takes time and concerted effort. Also, if you feel the need to improve in a few areas, concentrate on a couple at a time instead of trying to tackle them all at once.
Remember, I stated earlier that based on perception you may see yourself as a better leader than the people you are supposed to be leading do. Perception is reality to those people regardless of whether you feel they are wrong. To remedy that, after you have assessed yourself, assess them. Find out what their behavior style, driving forces, and skills/competencies are. Identify how they differ from yours and make adjustments to better communicate with them. Even though perception is reality to them, perceptions can be changed.
You never know until you find out. Do you want to be a better leader? Then take the time to obtain the knowledge necessary to identify not only what it takes to be a better leader, but also which leadership qualities you possess and which ones you need to improve upon.
About the Author — Ron Feher is the Chief Improvement Officer at WhiteRock Business Solutions whose mission is to help make small businesses better by making their people better. WhiteRock’s service offerings include Executive Coaching, Manager Mentoring, Candidate/Job Matching, staff/team development, executive and staff recruiting, and career coaching. Ron is a certified professional analyst with TTI Success Insights® and Career Direct, utilizing their assessments to help hire, coach, mentor, and retain top talent and improve team effectiveness and efficiency. WhiteRock is located in Orange County, California and can be found at www.whiterockbusiness.net; or contact Ron (www.linkedin.com/in/ronaldafeher) directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (949-466-0943). @RonFeher