Personal Leadership Effectiveness is about POWER. By power, I mean the rate at which one’s intentions are made real in the world. By made real, I mean fulfilled, realized, achieved, or accomplished.
It is possible to improve our personal leadership effectiveness and close the gap between what we say we will accomplish and what actually is accomplished. This gap, which I call the delivery gap, is evident at all levels in an organization: strategic, operational, project, and individual. Although frequently blamed on a variety of factors, such as the characteristics and qualities of other people or conditions and circumstances at work, delivery gaps are often the result of our own personal leadership effectiveness. Unfortunately, because most of us don’t want to admit that our personal leadership may be ineffective, our efforts to close the delivery gaps are misdirected and the gaps persists.
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
—Philip K. Dick
Personal Leadership Effectiveness (PLE) refers to your effectiveness in getting other people to work for the accomplishment of futures you have committed to accomplishing regardless of your position or authority. PLE is built on five practices that contribute to producing the leadership results and relationships that make a difference, enhance reputations, and contribute to a positive legacy. These five practices are applicable to any leadership style, and, taken together, are referred to as The Power Star ©.
THE POWER STAR©
The POWER STAR© shows the five practices of personal leadership effectiveness and the ways they are interrelated. Reliable performance begins when people stand in the foundations of integrity and accountability, use the tools of productive communication, develop existence and infrastructure for managing agreements, and focus on deliverables and the agreements that create them. The five practices of personal leadership effectiveness do not mean you will always succeed, but you will be much more effective when you exercise all five than without any one of them.
1. Focus on Deliverables. Deliverables are the products (e.g., reports, prototypes), services (e.g., coaching, consulting, advising), and communications (e.g., requests, presentations) that are delivered or handed over to another person, team, or organization at some time in the future. It is the successful delivery of these products, services, and communications that constitutes accomplishment and determines our effectiveness. That is why we say “everyone is in the delivery business”. Ideally what is to be delivered and the conditions which constitute successful delivery are created in and through agreements with others. These agreements establish the conditions of satisfaction that must be fulfilled if the delivery is to be considered successful. Accomplishment, therefore, involves keeping an eye on the deliverables we owe (and are owed us) as well as the agreements that are the foundation for those deliverables. The focus of personal leadership effectiveness is the creation, management, and honoring of agreements for the successful delivery of deliverables. A key distinction here is the difference between expectations (what is thought or assumed but not communicated) and agreements (what is communicated and consented to by both parties).
2. Expand Integrity reminds us that honoring our word is the basis of all successful operations. Integrity is: (a) keeping our word and doing what we say we will do by when we say we will, (b) letting all the people affected by the giving of our word know promptly whenever we will not be keeping our word, and (c) cleaning up whatever mess failing to keep our word creates for others. Although integrity may be seen as a personal attribute, Expanding Integrity is about increasing the level of integrity in the relationships and interactions we have with others. As such, Expand Integrity is a “we”, rather than a “me” issue and focuses on how well we honor what we say to each other. Without integrity, workability and performance decline, limiting our effectiveness and accomplishment.
3. Build Accountability reminds us to “own” what happens in our interactions while trying to accomplish something and to avoid the pitfall of being a victim to circumstances. Building Accountability is a call to engage and interact with people so as to bring accountability present in the interaction and to break the victim cycle that frequently occurs, particularly when things don’t go as agreed. Rather than seeing accountability as a personal trait, characteristic, or attribute, Building Accountability holds that accountability exists “in between” people in the interactions and conversations they have with each other and that it is possible to increase the accountability in any and all relationships through productive communication.
4. Communicate Productively. There are only two sets of tools available for delivering what we have promised to others. The first is productive communication. Productive communication is the kind that actually moves action forward toward the accomplishment of intended outcomes. Four types of conversations are productive: initiative, understanding, performance, and closure conversations (see our book, “The Four Conversations: Daily Communication that Gets Results”). Initiative, Understanding, and Performance Conversations are key to creating, managing, and honoring agreements for deliverables and the actions that produce them, whereas, Closure Conversations are central to keeping and completing those agreements and setting the stage for future agreements. The effective and appropriate use of these conversations generates and builds accountability and expands integrity.
5. Manage Agreements. The second set of tools for delivering what is promised is creating the tools and practices that allow you to manage your agreements. The key to personal leadership effectiveness is found in the adage “stop managing people, start managing agreements”. Tools and practices refers to the ways we “keep things around” so that we can work on them; if you can’t remember what you have agreed to do, or don’t have sufficient time in which to completed what you have agreed to, it cannot be accomplished and there will be a delivery gap. For example, writing down a grocery list – an agenda or checklist – makes it possible for us to remember all the things we want to purchase without relying on our memory. Other tools include displays, personal schedules, meetings, and measures. Practices include reliably writing things down, maintaining a personal schedule of when work will be done, and repairing broken agreements.
The POWER STAR© indicates that the five elements of personal leadership effectiveness are interrelated. Reliable quality performance begins when people establish the integrity of their word and interact accountably regarding what they say and do (as well as don’t say and don’t do). When this happens, they are clear that they have made an agreement and a commitment to deliver a future and that it is now up to them to deliver that future. Accordingly, they will want to put in place the existence and infrastructure that is needed to fulfill on their commitments and to communicate productively. Doing so does not mean they will always succeed, but they will be much more effective if they do than if they assume what currently is in place is sufficient. The end result is the closing of delivery gaps and a significant increase in personal leadership effectiveness. Based on the data we have collected, the application of the Power Star practices can reduce delivery gaps from 30% to 6%.
*POWER = People Obtaining Worthwhile and Extraordinary Results