Great leaders are not born — they are shaped by the challenges they face and grow thanks to the insights they gain. While the challenges show up themselves, insights must be acquired deliberately.
The crux with growing as a leader is that there is an overwhelming amount of literature, education and tips – yet when it comes to incorporating and applying new insights, we rely on our personal experience and judgment. Indeed, leaders develop their views on effective leadership based on how they felt when they were led and then either do the same thing or the polar opposite.
However, this method of growth is limited to the diversity and quality of leadership the leader is exposed to, and there is a tendency for organizations to get stuck in a loop.
For example, once a leader is labeled a micromanager, they might become hesitant to hold the members of their team to account. Once a member of their team is a leader themselves, they will strive to avoid this label. These cycles crystallize into recognizable patterns, or leadership styles, and impact the performance of organizations.
Broadening our perspectives to include leaders in vastly different environments can accelerate our growth and introduce us to alternative approaches to leadership.
Two models of leadership I find effective are intent-based leadership and leadership based on freedom and responsibility and challenge traditional paradigms.
Intent-based leadership: giving control rather than taking control
L. David Marquet brought forth a leadership model that moves away from the traditional leader-follower dynamic. In the high-pressure environment of a submarine, he felt incredibly exposed to the skills but also the way his fellow crew members employed – or ignored – these skills aboard the USS Santa Fe.
In his book Turn the Ship Around!, Marquet reveals how giving control, rather than taking it, and focusing on competence and clarity can unlock individual potential. This fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
Dive deeper into these transformative ideas with practical tools and techniques for implementing intent-based leadership.
Leadership based on freedom and responsibility: unlocking the potential of powerful adults
From Netflix’s journey, we learn the importance of treating employees as powerful adults. In her book Powerful, Patty McCord discusses how a culture based on freedom and responsibility can yield astonishing results.
In particular, McCord walks us through Netflix’s radical corporate culture, emphasizing the fact that people do not need to be empowered. All an organization needs to do is to stop seizing power from the people they hire.
Discover more about building trust and autonomy in the workplace and what a critical role open and honest feedback plays at Netflix.
What sets great organizations apart? The ability to focus, align and boldly move toward their goals.
The operative words here are focus and goals. I have yet to see an organization whose leaders think that they lack goals or a strategy. What is rare, though, are organizations that achieve their goals and realize the benefits promised by their strategy. To evaluate whether the promised impact has been achieved exceeds the capacity of most organizations, as their focus is already on the projects that have been launched by promising even more benefits.
Achieving the benefits promised by strategy
In the modern business landscape, strategic choices are crucial. Deciding, what to do is easy. What is hard is to decide, what not to do.
In my experience, Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a powerful tool to facilitate choices coherent with the strategy at all levels of the organization.
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) have been successfully implemented by tech industry giants like Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter. But you probably already knew that.
Even if you have looked at OKRs before, I invite you to take a fresh perspective and as I want to share with you, how OKRs fuel employee engagement.
Embarking on an organizational transformation demands courage, vision and clarity.
Every individual deserves to have clarity regarding the following three key questions:
- What do you expect from me?
- How do you see my performance relative to these expectations?
- What does my future hold?
While OKRs answer the first question, numbers two and three are at best answered partially by OKRs and belong to the separate realm of performance management.
OKRs act as your compass, guiding you through unfamiliar territory, ensuring alignment and promoting adaptability. Ready for deeper insights? Explore the articles above and begin your transformation journey.