May 2014 | Nano Tools | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Todd Henshaw, PhD , Director of Executive Leadership Programs, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; former Director of Military Leadership, West Point.
Become a more authentic leader by identifying and leading with your core beliefs and values.
The role of authenticity in leadership has been explored and extolled for over a decade. Those who can successfully merge their personal identity with their role in the organization, who are more transparent and more open about themselves, have been shown to achieve better results (Luthans & Avolio, 2003) (George, 2003). These leaders evoke greater trust and elicit better performance and outcomes from their teams. Job satisfaction and retention rates as well as levels of commitment to the organization are also positively impacted.
But to lead authentically, leaders must first understand who they are, where they have been, and how key events and people in their lives inform who they are today. Starting with a guided self-reflection on key “crucible” experiences, the creation of a leadership philosophy becomes an opportunity to identify and articulate your point of view on leadership; your assumptions and deeply held beliefs about people, leader-follower relationships, and your purpose as a leader; and how you intend to accomplish your mission through and with people. The process of developing a leadership philosophy also provides an opportunity to clarify mutual expectations for leadership with the team.
Your crucible experiences, the ones that have had the most profound impact, are the foundation of your leadership philosophy, helping listeners connect and identify emotionally with you. They also inform the four components of your leader philosophy that can help you communicate your values, style, and preferences across your organization and team, and to initiate a conversation about “how we lead together” across the team.
Several executives from Morgan Stanley use this process to allow their teams to express their desired leadership climate and culture. In one case, the leader presented a prepared Leadership Philosophy to his team. In the second case, the leader proposed that the team build a team philosophy from scratch. In both cases, the results were powerful and immediate. Team members felt included in the process, and the associated motivation led to performance improvement such as increases in initiative, clearer communication across the team including clarity around mutual expectations, and faster decision-making. The executives’ direct reports “cascaded” the Leadership Philosophy down the organization to other teams to achieve clarity of purpose and to build consensus regarding their joint purpose, desired organizational culture, and commitment to stakeholders and to the company as a whole.
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton's Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director. Nano Tools’ Academic Director is John Paul MacDuffie, Wharton Associate Professor of Management, and Director of the Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) at Wharton's Mack Institute for Innovation Management.
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