The skill set required of leaders today is mind-boggling. Not only do you have to be adept at guiding complex projects with multiple stakeholders through to completion with a reduced budget, you are also expected to have flawless people skills in doing so.
Some organizations are developing competency models to help leaders define the skills required and then master them. I have seen models with as many as 10 overarching competencies (each with a subset of skills). No wonder leaders are overwhelmed.
A Meaningful Model
What is needed to help leaders successfully navigate their role in a continuously changing work environment is a simplified model. One way to envision the leadership role is to picture it as having two components:
In short, what organizations need leaders to do is to manage two things:
- The energy level of their team
- The direction that energy is moving
When a team's gas tank is next to empty, the leader's role is to find out what is draining the energy and remedy it. A team cannot be productive without a continuous, daily refueling so that the gauge indicates a full tank. Things that can drain a team's energy include lack of appreciation, inefficient process, conflict, and ineffective meetings.
Once the team's energy is restored, the leader needs to ensure that all that energy is moving to complete projects aligned with the organizational vision and strategic objectives. Effective leaders use tools such as carefully crafted measures, cross-functional process and consistent feedback to keep energy flowing in the right direction. Skillful leaders do not need to over-manage their teams; they set direction and parameters and then allow their teams to innovate and learn their way to the desired destination. When things are off track, the measures set off the alarm, alerting team members to self-correct and realign.
1 What is the current energy level of your team or organization? What practices do you have in place to monitor team energy, diagnose drains and restore positive energy flow?
2 What processes do you have in place to clarify goals, measure results and provide feedback?
3 What percentage of your time do you spend on each of these two components of leadership? How well is this percentage working for you?