For many leaders, "being transformational" means, just pursuing opportunities that fit their company's faith based visions and goals. While that is a right thing to do in most situations, we propose a purpose driven leadership (PDL) approach, where, 21st century purpose driven leaders can “stretch” their leadership traits to supplement their foundational leadership fit – and create a healthy chasm (or a healthy stretch) between their “aspiration driven hopes” and “faith based visions” – to achieve higher levels of performance as outlined in our “sinusoidal trio” construct based PDL framework (see pictures below), that inherently helps leaders to determine, which stage of the stretching process requires, which type of leadership thread traits and so on and so forth.
Not only that, these purpose driven leaders, also proactively elevate their “aspiration driven hopes” greater than their “faith based visions” and unleash their positive energies (also called as eustress) to neutralize the ill-effects of the negative energy driven stresses, thus creating a tension – which has inspired us to characterize purpose driven leadership as “stretch and eustress”, similar to, how strategy is being characterized as “stretch and leverage” by CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel. Purpose driven leaders also learn to overcome those tensions by proactively renewing their eustresses, from their in-side out energy portfolio sources, and by, meticulously executing their 5 leadership trait threads – Confidence, Commitment, Context, Caliber and Call-to-Action – as explained in detail below.
Our approach is being piloted as part of our role within the following firms
- ABS Global Strategy Division (http://theacademyofbusinessstrategyglobalpartners.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/chicago-il-illinois-usa/)
- Willis Consulting LLC (http://www.willisllc.com/profiles.html), a boutique strategy consulting firm specializing on strategic planning and collaboration/OD driven innovations.
While there are quite a few, great leadership frameworks available within the market place today, we feel, that there is a need for a customized, inside-out leadership framework, to tackle the specific nuances of purpose driven strategic planning engagements of the 21st century. Yet another motivation being is most frameworks, do not inherently help leaders to tackle the transformational change leadership challenges faced by the purpose driven strategic planning engagements and so, the need of the hour, in our humble opinion, is a leadership framework that is built on top of our prior work on PTV©, with a customized/inside-out, portfolio-thread based leadership framework called PDL©, specifically designed to address the challenges within the various stages of the transformational change leadership process using a “sinusoidal trio” construct, to help leaders determine, which stage of the stretch process requires, which type of leadership thread traits.
- With a fact that there is no integrated ”one-stop-shop” leadership framework available within the market place, to inherently help organizations to execute a “purpose driven strategic planning engagements” using our PTV frameworks (see the our MIX story using PTV© with its three frameworks EPP©, CPP© , PIP©), we see a need for an integrated, purpose leadership framework in alignment with our PTV.
- While, most of the popular leadership frameworks (Servant leadership, WestPoint leadership framework, Legacy Framework etc) have their own strengths in their respective area of focus, none of those frameworks inherently help us to achieve both the purpose needs and a superior organizational performance, simultaneously.
- While it is true that our PDL© framework derives some of its best characteristics from popular leadership frameworks like servant leadership, it also has few additional nuances to overcome some of the perceived shortcomings of servant leadership, especially, within a business context – i.e. SL’s over emphasis on servicing the followers. For example, Servant leadership, sometimes is wrongly perceived, as a style promoting too much of a charity mindset, within a profit minded businesses. This is where, our PDL© framework, with its balanced set of Portfolios and Threads help leaders, to exhibit the business focused leadership traits -with the “right portfolio/thread trait for the right moment” mindset, thus achieving superior performance.
- Yet another driver for our leadership framework being that- developing a purpose driven strategic plan, creates some unique challenges for the leaders –especially answering those purpose-profit balanced questions like - Is corporations exist to make just profit or to fulfill its purpose, or both? While most agree that we need to do both, in reality, it is not easy to balance those answers in day-to-day business decisions. And so, the need of the hour, in our humble opinion, is a balanced approach, deriving its best features from other popular leadership frameworks, yet balancing PTV’s 6 macro dilemmas with a help of a “portfolios” and “threads” based leadership traits of PDL.
As a first step of introducing the PDL framework, we developed a balanced definition for purpose driven leadership using a hybrid (attribute and outcome) model, with a help of few leading questions and then grouped them within a portfolio construct.
- Is it something we have it inside of us that is manifested in the form of a confidence creating trait? - Attribute based trait
- Is it something one exhibits during some of the difficult seasons of life or business? - Attribute based trait
- Is it something one exhibit to embrace each other unconditionally? - Attribute/Outcome combination trait
- Is it something we recognize when we see? – Outcome based trait
- Is it a tangible thing one can reap and experience? - Outcome based trait
As a next step, we chose a sinusoidal trio construct (sinusoidal wave that is overlaid on top of the triangular construct - see picture below) – to better pictorially represent the nuances of these attribute/outcome based traits.
We have also reversed the triangular construct of the framework for an important reason of aligning two of its base vertices to the two upper crests of the sinusoidal construct, with a goal of communicating an important message, that these leadership traits are governed by the seasonality principle, very similar to how PTV is governed by the seasonality principle, to resolve its six macro dilemmas.
As we can clearly see from the pciture above, that the leadership traits that are grouped under Faith and Hope Portfolio are mostly “attribute traits”, whereas, the traits within Love portfolio have the characteristics of both attributes and outcomes. On the other hand, Service portfolio (service) and Value portfolio (value) are mostly outcome traits – yet, all five of them are bound together, beautifully by the invisible glue (or instruction), called the purpose seed.
Yet another point that deserves our attention here is that – Faith and Love Portfolio traits are placed on top of the two crests of the sinusoidal wave (& hence the two bases of the triangle), whereas the Hope Portfolio traits are placed on the trough (& hence the vertex of the triangle) of the sinusoidal construct – to communicate another important message of aligning leadership traits with business seasons (crest and trough seasons needing crest and trough strategies as outlined in the recent Caterpillar article at Forbes). In other words, exhibiting right type of leadership trait for the right moment is more important than exhibiting the vanilla leadership traits themselves - and rightfully so, PDL© encourages leaders to exhibit the Hope portfolio traits (more than the other portfolio traits) during those turbulent trough times of the business life cycle, and Faith/Love portfolio traits during the crest times of the business life cycle.
Another interesting aspect of PDL© is the emergence of seasonality driven sinusoidal wave pattern within PDL©’s purpose driven leadership journey. Like our personal lives, most businesses, also start their journey on a higher ground (or the crest) by exhibiting the Faith Portfolio traits, however, sooner or later, they invariably end up going through those trough times - and this is where PDL© encourages, leaders to exhibit Hope portfolio traits, so that they can pull their businesses out of the trough seasons quickly, and move onto the next crest experience exhibiting the Love portfolio traits - which then, is followed by Service and Value Portfolio traits - as outlined in the picture on top of the page.
While this sinusoidal wave pattern is the typical path for most businesses, history is also filled with examples, where some businesses, get stuck on the trough zone for an extended period of time, partly because of the failure on leaders’ part, to exhibit those optimistic Hope portfolio traits. Granted, trough or valley situations are bound to happen in most business journeys, but what is more important is, leaders steering the businesses, to come out of those trough times quickly. This is the reason, PDL© framework is designed with a sinusoidal construct to stress the need for leaders to equip themselves with a balanced set of five Portfolio traits, so that they can apply their intuitive judgment, and use the right portfolio trait, for the right moment, thus minimizing, the so called trough seasonal impacts. In other words, the means by which leaders achieve the end, is equally important as that of the end itself - as we learn from the three prime time, servant leaders of all times - Nehemiah, Omar Bin al-Khattab and Krishna - who exhibited the Hope portfolio leadership traits, during some of the difficult seasons of their leadership missions.
PDL©’s five Leadership Threads Enabling the Transformational Change leadership!
Once we laid out the leadership traits of PDL© in a portfolio format for easy understanding – we took the next step of highlighting how the framework comes to life, in a real world leadership situation. One of the acid tests for leaders (per most experts) is how they handle the transformational change leadership scenarios, that is very much in demand needed to transform the 21st century businesses, where, the transformational/change leader is not only expected to exhibit the purpose driven versatile leadership, but also, be able to adapt to new conditions, open to innovative ideas, and be prepared to deal with both expected and unexpected events – all simultaneously.
With that said, the natural follow-on question is how PDL© inherently helps one to be a successful transformational change leader? The answer lies in the important insight that transformational change leadership is not an event, but an ongoing process (or one can call it as a movement to be precise) – which means, each stage of that transformational change movement, has different business characteristics, and hence, need different set of leadership traits, to address the nuances of those characteristics.
As it turns out, every one of the leadership traits from PDL©’s five Portfolios, happen to form five unique threads, to meet the leadership expectations of transformational change experience, in alignment with the seasonality driven sinusoidal/triangular pattern, as outlined below, and on the picture on the top of the page. It is interesting to note that each of these threads, not only act as the stepping stone for the next thread, but also, map1:1 to PTV’s principles and frameworks, in a sequential manner, as outlined in the picture above.
PDL©’s Five Leadership Threads in Action
Now that we have learned that the transformational change is an ongoing process or movement, it brings up yet another differentiating point about PDL©, that PDL© is an “inside out” framework as opposed to the “outside in” model used by most of the other popular leadership frameworks. What do we mean by that? PDL© handles the five stage transformational change process, first by creating the confidence within the hearts and minds of the leaders and followers alike, which then triggers them to voluntarily to do great things, as opposed to the other popular frameworks, that encourage leaders to exhibit the “call to action” leadership traits from the outside-in. This is one of the reasons, we suggest our readers to experience the five stages of transformational change process in a real word assignment (business, charity and/or society), so that they can better exhibit these five “inside out” leadership traits in the threaded sequence listed below.
Interestingly enough, these five threads, also align perfectly with the inherent meanings of our five fingers and so, we suggest our readers, to imprint these threads into their respective finger prints. Please note that our PDL finger printing sequence starts from the thump finger, followed by the small finger, and then the ring finger, middle finger and finally the index finger. In other words, PDL's fingers print sequence is– Thump-Small-Ring-Middle-Index.
1. Confidence creating "faith-hope-love thread", led by the Thump finger, that is known for its asserting power, confidence and will power – and rightfully so, this thread happens to be the foundational leadership thread that sets the right tone for the leadership, where all the other activities derive their strength from, as without confidence there is no leadership. Having the confidence on the part of leaders and followers alike, gives the assurance to the stakeholders that the organization can do what it is set out to do. Confidence usually starts with the faith – i.e. believing in the organization’s purpose when there is nothing substantial to believe in – as faith is substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen – which by the way, brings up our next attribute called hope, within this thread. While faith might be the starting point, hope is the thing that actually brings life to that faith, even on situations, when an organization is going through some of its worst difficult times. Hope may be the only thing, those organizations, may have to hold onto, during those darkest moments– as there is always a mountain top experience after the valley experience – which brings up our next portfolio called love that is supposed to be exhibited as part of those mountain top experiences. While some question the relevance of manifesting love portfolio traits within business environments, we choose to differ, and would even argue that love is one of the key traits, that needs to be exhibited in a business setup, as long as it is mixed in the right dosage with other portfolio traits.
2. Commitment producing "trust-aspiration-empathy" thread, led by the Small finger that is known for its intuitive trust energy and empathy– As the saying goes, confidence without commitment has no meaning - and rightfully so, confidence producing faith at times might fail us, whereas, the commitment producing trust will never. This brings up the need for the next stage of leadership, where the confidence created in the earlier thread manifests itself as the action with a “trust-aspire-empathy” mindset. In other words, within PDL©’s causal chain; if “faith-hope-love” thread is the cause, then “trust-aspire-empathy” is the effect.
3. Context creating "mindset-body space-heartbeat" thread, led by the Ring finger, that is known for setting the context for the relationship (creativity, expression and love) –rightfully so, this thread sets the right context for the leadership, as the text without context is the pretext and so, we cannot stress the importance of this stage of leadership anymore, given the fact, leadership always needs a context to operate. Context, in his case means, understanding stakeholders’ heartbeat, mindset and body space within their day-in-the-life cycle. Without this context, our prior threads of confidence and commitment have no relevance at all – and so, success of PDL leadership lynches on this ring finger thread called context. As it turns out, this thread of leadership is also stressed by the WestPoint leadership framework and interestingly, our context creating thread traits aligns perfectly with the “BE”, “KNOW” and “DO” focus areas of WestPoint framework as well.
4. Caliber producing "talent-skill-wisdom" thread, led by the Middle finger, known for its analytical reasoning (analysis, synthesis and discernment) – With Human resources seem to be emerging as the most important capability within the 21st century organizations, we have no words to express the importance of this thread as Caliber of an organization can make or break a situation in a snap moment. Interestingly enough, middle finger (along with Thump) is the only finger capable of making the snapping sound (symbolizing the make or break situation for organizations), especially, when leaders fail to hire/train the right set of people with the right caliber (i.e. mix of talent, skills and wisdom). At this juncture, it is important that leaders understand the subtle differences between skills, talent and wisdom, which sometimes are collectively called as “TALENT”. The reason we would like to highlight this subtle difference at this juncture is that certain sub-components of TALENT are more important than the others depending upon the strategic direction (organic core growth vs. adjacency growth vs. disruptive growth vs. some combination of the three) leaders decide to take their organization to –
- A skill is something that we learn (like driving a car) that needs to be “nurtured/trained” within the talent management process.
- A talent is something that comes naturally (like singing or public speaking) that needs to be “encouraged” within the talent management process.
- A gift is something that is given us from a Higher Power (e.g. wisdom) that needs to be “treasured” and used in right proportion at the right time for the right purpose.
With that said we cannot stress enough the importance of leaders identifying these sub-component level differences at the individual level and develop a customized TALENT management processes to grow the followers at the personal level. Discerning those differences early on at the individual level will help the organization to adopt the right TALENT development strategy for the right sub-component of TALENT. For example, nurturing/training strategy that works well for skill development, in general, does not work well for talent development. On the other hand, motivation process in general works well within the talent development process - as talents need encouragement, mentoring & the platform support.
Yet another trap leaders fall into is merging talent management process into the performance management processes – and so it is important to highlight differences between them as well. Performance management is a point in time assessment of the results against pre-established goals, based on the opinion of few managers, whereas talent management is assessing, whether an individual or an organization has the right set of talented people and processes (hiring, training, career plan, succession plan etc) in place to sustain its business operation, in alignment with its 5-10 strategic plan. Without this distinction, leaders will end up nurturing people with the outdated yardsticks of last century and developing wrong set of leaders who are not sufficiently equipped to handle the challenges of 21st century.
5. Call-to-Action producing "know-how-action drivers-Inspirational insight" thread, led by the Index finger that is known for calling the shots (knowledge, defense and offense ) – Last, but not the least, leadership, at the end of the day is walking the talk and talking the walk – which means, leadership is all about blending these “call to action” thread traits of “know-how, recommendations and intuitive inspirational insights” and translating them into actionable decisions that are appropriate for the moment - and until that happens, everything else has no meaning. With that said, “talk the walk and walk the talk” is the motto of this thread.
As it turns out, Purpose Driven Leadership (PDL©), in its essence, is all about, leaders manifesting their emotional energies in – mindset (faith), heartbeat (love) and environment (hope) portfolio dimensions –- which brings up an interesting insight that, the ease, in which, leaders manage and manifest their “inside-out emotional energy traits” decides the effectiveness of their leadership. Simply put, the efficiency in which leaders manage their emotional energy flow, within these three portfolio dimensions, using PDL©’s five leadership threads (confidence, commitment, context, caliber and call-to-action) is the one that decides the effectiveness of their leadership, more specifically within the context of leading our Portfolio-Thread View (PTV© & EPP©, CPP© , PIP©) driven strategic planning engagements.
PDL - as a healthy chasm between “aspiration driven hopes” and “faith based visions”
As part of implementing PDL framework, we were posed a question how PDL inherently helps leaders to achieve superior performance in real world situations? Driven to learn more about, how leadership frameworks in general help certain leaders to be more successful than others (and hence, delivering superior performance and results) - we started our inquisitive journey of understanding the underpinnings of those emotional energy traits that make PDL– from the standpoint of how those successful leaders, exhibit them in real world situations. For many purpose driven leaders, "being transformational" means, just pursuing opportunities that fit their company's “faith based visions and goals”. While that is the right thing to do, we also feel that there exist a better approach, in which these purpose driven leaders can “stretch” their leadership traits, to supplement their foundational leadership fit – and create a healthy chasm (or healthy stretch) between their aspiration driven hopes and faith based visions – to achieve higher levels of performance, as outlined below.
In other words, as depicted in the sinusoidal construct, that is embedded within the chasm part of the picture, leaders, usually start their leadership journey on a higher ground (or the crest) by exhibiting their faith based vision portfolio traits, however, sooner or later, they invariably, end up going through those tough trough times - and this is where PDL© framework encourages, leaders to elevate their “aspiration driven hope portfolio traits” greater than their “faith based vision portfolio traits”, so that they can pull their organizations quickly out of those trough seasons, and move onto the next crest experience of achieving superior performance - as outlined in the picture on top of the page.
With that said, we would like to hypothesize that managing the energy flow, efficiently within their leadership portfolios, not only directly impact the effectiveness of their leadership, but also, it impacts the overall organization performance. Rightfully so, we had prescribed PDL©’s 5 leadership threads (Confidence, Commitment, Context, Caliber and Call-to-Action) as an answer, to achieve such superior performance, in our blog, last week – more specifically, we had also stressed the importance of Caliber thread in discerning the differences between performance management and talent management (PT) processes, the missing link in achieving superior organizational performance.
What do we mean by that? Performance management is a point in time assessment of the results against pre-established goals, based on the opinion of one or two managers (which is highly subjective), whereas, talent management is assessing, whether an individual or an organization has the right set of talented people and processes (hiring, training, career plan, succession plan etc) in place, to sustain their business operations, in alignment with their 5-10 year strategic plan – and so, it is important that leaders make this distinction, to help enable organizations, to achieve superior performance.
Root causes inhibiting organizational performance
To properly manage these differences, we suggest organizations, to create a metrics based proactive PT culture, to objectively measure/monitor and manage both performance and talent management (PT) processes, on an ongoing basis. While it is easier said than done, in reality, PT processes, are the most difficult processes to implement, partly because, the causes inhibiting organizational performances, are not just PT related, rather, they are systemic, and hence, we need a systemic mindset in identifying the causes, leave alone fixing them. With that said, the top three systemic causes inhibiting organization performances, in our opinion are -
- The negative energy based stresses that get released within organizations, from over (or under) stretching the leadership traits within the PDL©’s portfolio and threads.
- The environmental factors – competition, insecurity, conflicts, politics, regulation and other unexpected events etc.
- The caliber of people (or the quality of the seed) within the organizations i.e. failing to hire and/or train the right people i.e. not differentiating performance and talent management processes properly.
Leadership as Stretch and Eustress
If we had to further summarize these three causes, the foundational root cause, in our opinion is - the negative stress that is being released because of over/under stretching those leadership traits. Leadership stretch is nothing but, a misfit among the portfolio traits (more specifically the tension among the mind/faith, body/hope, heart/love portfolios) and stress is the negative energy that is being released, because of that misfit e.g. when mind overrides the intentions of heart and body. The good news is that leadership under PDL©, is also equipped to release positive energy based stress (or eustress) to nullify those negative energies, and hence, there exist a tension – and so, we call “purpose driven leadership as stretch and eustress”, very much like how strategy is being characterized as “stretch and leverage” by CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel.
With that said, for leaders to be successful, we suggest that they are proactive and find less stressful ways of elevating their “aspiration driven hopes” greater than their “faith based visions”, to proactively release their eustresses, so that they can continue to neutralize the ill-effects of their negative energy stresses. One such proactive way, within our PT context here is, to properly discern the differences between performance and talent management processes – thus avoiding the negative energy that is being released into the work place, in the first place. For example, our research shows, that on an average, around 10-25% of highly talented employees are given "less than what they" deserve type reviews every year, as reviews in most companies, are highly subjective, and are usually based on the opinions of one or two “like minded” managers, or the so called clicks. This is where, we suggest organizations, to have a well documented governance process, in place, for the “second or third line senior leaders”, to weigh in, and perform a “deep dive” objective review (with a help of a neutral third party or in some cases even by external firms), and review all of their employee stretch goal results, that might have been achieved during the course of the years.
An example being a case study we did with one of our clients – where, we were asked to give an objective opinion, and to help resolve an unfair treatment experienced by handful of employees in one part of their organization. As we started our review, very soon, we noticed that few talented employees were given poor reviews, by their immediate supervisors (and their peers), in spite of the fact, these employees had exceeded their objectives. In addition, a handful of those talented employees, had also achieved 21+ stretch objectives, over and beyond their assigned objectives.
During our confidential interview process with few stakeholders(both inside and outside the organization who had a closer knowledge of the performance of those employees) , we also uncovered the fact that this handful of talented employees, were very forward looking talented individuals, and had also successfully completed some advanced level of work, that is very relevant for the organization’s double digit growth (over and beyond their assigned objectives) – which got their immediate supervisor(s) and their peer group, threatened, and so, they started suppressing those talented employees, by giving them poor reviews .
The solution, we had suggested to our client was, not only to implement the PT management processes, but also, implement a senior leaders/HR led, coaching process, to the middle managers, to renew their in-side out energy portfolio sources on a continual basis, and by, meticulously executing their 5 leadership trait threads. In a way, we call this type of proactive leadership coaching, as an aided energy management process. Once senior leaders (including the HR leaders), learned to master such proactive energy management coaching process with a help of PDL©’s five threads, we started seeing some tangible changes happening (i.e. we were able to measure that with a 360 type survey), and today, our client is well positioned to continue to raise their “aspirational hopes” greater than their “faith based visions”, thus achieving superior levels of performance.
Adopting a new leadership model like PDL with a senior leaders/HR led coaching process does create higher value for the larger benefit of the organization, as reflected in the 360 survey that was performed as part of our case study. While we thought that the earlier example, perhaps was an unfortunate, isolated event, and not a norm in most companies, we quickly also learned that some of the other lessons learned (as listed below), were all the more alarming. To overcome those challenges, we helped our client, to implement a well thought out, performance and talent management (PT) process, along with governance guidelines, so that senior leaders, can proactively pay a closer attention to these discrepancies, especially to those percentages of employees, who were wrongly judged and placed in the 1-5 scale. Some of our observations included, but not limited to are -
- 10-25% of the employees who were given the rating of 1 are deserved to be 4 or 5.
- 10-25% of the employees who were given the rating 2 are deserved to be 5.
- Over 10% of the employees who were given the rating 3 are deserved to be 2.
- Over 10% of the employees who were given the rating 4 are deserved to be 3
- Over 10% of the employees who were given the rating 5 are deserved to be 3 or 2.
What do these observations tell us? Performance and talent management processes are not only broken within most companies today, but also, these companies, end up nurturing wrong set of people, and hence, resulting in the exodus of talented people, who are critically needed to help them during these tough economic times, in the first place. Not only that – those talented employees, eventually might get hired by their competitors, and so, might cause them, double damage as well – and so, it is in the best interest of the organizations, that they pay a closer attention to this type of PT challenges, and nip them in the bud, before they spread too much into the larger parts of the organization.