The exceptional leader’s sources of power

While there are many organisational systems that can contribute either to the development or the deterioration of exceptional executives. There are particularly four of them which enables leaders to realize the inherent power in the dimensions of Breadth, Choice, Context and Connection.

Power in breadth

Every organisation has silos and fragmentation. Bringing the pieces into a unified whole (One Firm, One Team) is an executive's primary challenge, but if you grew up in one of those silos, like finance, you tend to see the world through economics. Or if you grew up in marketing, you tend to see the world through customers. The leader’s job now is to see the world holistically, how all the pieces fit together and to have an end to end understanding of how those parts create value for the marketplace. The executive’s job is to create cohesion, is to build bridges to connect people together rather than do things that unintentionally intensify the division.

How can you identify your functional biases which clouding your broader perspectives?

If your leadership team is bringing functional biases to the table, if they are seeing the world, through narrower lenses than they should, how can you help them broaden their perspective?

Power in context

This is the ability to read the tea leaves. To look at the organisation and ask questions. The failure to read context is at the heart of the myth of the mandate (Pitfalls to avoid as newly appointed CEO/MD). Leaders should show up curiously wondering why things are the way they are, recognising that something that might even seem dumb to them obviously was smart to somebody or seemed reasonable to somebody when it was first put in place. All these tell them a lot about the DNA of the organisation. They ask good questions, they look for trends, they look outside the organisation to the competitive landscape, to customers, to competitors, to suppliers. They look for patterns and disruptions that are on the horizon. They're able to apply that wisdom to the choices they make. They're not addicted to near-term financial constraints, they keep a long-term perspective.

How can you develop your contextual intelligence?

How can you manage your anxiety by being and willing to hit the ground learning instead of hitting the ground running?

Power in choice

The greatest abuse of power is the abandonment of it. People too afraid or too hesitant to use the power that came with their role and they set it aside and instead they bought popularity with doling out way too many yeses. They bought loyalty with support, they became benevolent dictators in terms of how they got their way, but made people love them. And this was a terrible misuse of power and a terrible dilution of the organisations resources. Exceptional leaders, by contrast, know how to say no. They understand that leadership is the ability to disappoint people at a rate they can absorb. They know how to say no and they especially knew how to say no to even great ideas so that the commitments they'd already made, the yeses they had already delivered, could prevail. They understand their own decision-making mechanism, they know what data analytics, what intuition instincts, and what other voices they needed to blend together to make any given decision, and they are aware of the differences of how to blend those things depending on the risk or complexity of the decision. They can declare, they can delegate, they can include, and they are fairly adept at modifying across those and they are comfortable fostering open disagreement. They know that sometimes you get duelling fact bases in the decision process and they welcome those duelling fact bases to let the best ideas prevail.

In your decision-making and choice-making process what voices are you including? What data are you excluding? What intuition are you under or over-relying on?

What are the temptations you may encounter toward excessive consensus to please and buy popularity?

Power in connection

How to develop deep personal connections that establish trust. Have a clear stakeholder mapping and intentional plan to strengthen internal and external key relationships. Exploiting the natural fabric of organisational networks is what enables executives to have a road-reaching and deeply meaningful connections with bosses, peers and direct reports over the life of their careers. This becomes especially important as executives move around and rise in organisations and those relationships need constantly to be redefined. Exceptional leaders don’t kill informal organisational networks by either formalizing them or trying to stop them, rather celebrate their organic nature and allow their genuine capacity shape great relationships within for the sake of the organisation.

Have a look at all your stakeholders and analysing those sorts of relationships and being honest about the health of those relationships and where they may need to be strengthened.

Where do you see evidence of naturally formed employee networks in your organisation? What value do they create? What challenges do they present?


Source: Rising to Power: The Journey of Exceptional Executives by Ron Carucci & Eric C. Hansen & World Business & Executive Coach Summit 2019, Preparing Leaders for Senior Roles of Broader Influence presented by Ron Carucci

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