Action Wheel Leadership
Are there identifiable characteristics of good leadership? If so, how do we assess whether characteristics of a good leader fit our company ethics and goals?
Bob Terry author of Authentic Leadership: Courage In Action believed that leadership begins and ends with authenticity.
The concept of authentic leadership, and authenticity, is at the core of every program and product offered by Action Wheel Leadership.
The challenge is to present a clear list of characteristics of leadership that combine to make a leader or organization authentic.
Characteristics of a Good Leader#1 - Authentic Organizational Existence/History
The leadership challenge is to know the history of the organization, what it means, how to celebrate it and how to pass it on. Characteristics of good leadership are revealed in the willingness to address the truth, both good and bad, of organizational history. This defines, focuses and engages everyone in the purpose of the organization. Values are identified, preserved, embodied and passed on to guide the organization toward its purpose. Leadership Metaphors: Existence
Good Leadership Characteristic Criteria #2 - Authentic Organizational Resources
Leadership in this dimension focuses on individual and organizational competency. The leadership challenge is to assure that the right people are hired for the right jobs and that they have at their disposal the right tools and information to do the work. Characteristics of good leadership include the ability to demonstrate the discipline needed to provide accurate and honest performance information about the organization. Leadership Metaphors: Resources
Characteristics of a Good Leader#3 - Authentic Organizational Structure
The leadership challenge in this dimension is to inspire passionate believers in their roles within the organization. Engagement is the raw energy that is converted into power so that great work gets done. Leaders intentionally cultivate engagement by transforming rigid organizational structures into flexible interpersonal networks. Structural obstacles to good work are removed and systems are changed, as needed, to attain organizational goals. Leadership constantly nurtures common purpose. Shared values (what people have in common) emerge here.
Without solid, functional systems, resources get wasted and productivity declines. It is not enough for employees to know their own job functions as isolated units. All people in the organization need some sense of connection to each other. They also need clear rules of behavior so that no one's identity and being is violated. A characteristic of good leadership is an ability to address the silo mentality and arrogance of expertise by designing and maintaining systems that link all parts of the organization. Leadership Metaphors: Structure
Good Leadership Characteristic Criteria #4 - Authentic Organizational Power
Power is the energy that moves the organization forward. The leadership challenge in this dimension is to create a shift from positional power to shared power. Leadership recognizes that shared power and active participation create vested ownership. Channels are created to shift power to where it is most needed in the organization. Leadership shifts from specific positions to essentially everywhere. The entire organization must have the courage to learn together; this requires humility, listening astutely, being rigorously open, speaking up, trust, and sharing power. Leadership Metaphors: Power
Good Leadership Characteristic Criteria #5 - Authentic Organizational Mission
Anticipating the future is the leadership challenge in this dimension. Characteristics of good leadership include the recognition that the world does not always go where one wants it to. Leadership creates ways to anticipate where the world is going. Actions include tracking trends, discussing emerging threats and opportunities, hiring futurists and building scenarios of the future. The organization practices for events that might occur in the future, trying to find the best position for itself.
The leadership challenge in this dimension is to create a preferred picture of the future and conceive strategic intent to shape and direct the entire organization. When members of the organization rally around ethical principles, attend to each other, share a common vision, a strategic intent and organizational mission, they engage in authentic action. Leadership Metaphors: Mission
Characteristics of a Good Leader#6 - Authentic Organizational Meaning
The leadership challenge in this dimension is the perception of being in permanent “white water.” Nothing remains stable; uncertainty abounds regarding what actions to take. Leadership improvises. No one person is in charge; each hands off to others to make important actions happen. Characteristics of good leadership include the ability to help the organization identify, and honor, core values.
What are core values? Core values are the ideals that give life to the organization. Core values are the beliefs and principles necessary to sustain the work of the organization. Core values define meaning for the organization. Leadership Metaphors: Meaning
If all six preceding characteristics of good leadership are authentically addressed and pursued, a seventh leadership characteristic emerges: Fulfillment
Fulfillment can be described as "realizing the promise of authentic leadership". It is completed action that embraces the six other characteristics of good leadership: existence, resources, structure,power, mission and meaning.
Fulfillment of action occurs as leadership is willing and able to bring together the best thinking to probe deeper and make sense of what is really going on. Fulfillment embodies and builds upon all other dimensions of leadership and targets ultimate reality...that which is in and behind the basis for fulfillment.
Fulfillment is also knowing the answers to these core fulfillment questions:
1. Who do you serve, both internally and externally?
2. What are your explicit promises to those you serve?
3. How well, in their opinion, are you fulfilling those promises?
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