It was at the end of a large group meeting when he stood up to share: “Here is what I have learned, unlearned and relearned…” And he began to speak. I turned from watching him to watching those gathered. The audience was engaged and focused. His comments were clear and to the point. In reality, I didn’t know if I was going to cry or smile.
Finally, after years of coaching and endless hours of discussion about strategic level topics, he had found his voice. He claimed his knowledge and artfully blended in his experience. He spoke his truth. He displayed executive presence, that rare combination of being confident and calm, being present and attentive.
In his book The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, the late Stephen Covey notes there are four roles of leadership, not leadership as a position but instead “as a proactive intention to affirm the worth and potential of those around us and to unite them as a complementary team in an effort to increase the influence and impact of the organization and important causes we are part of.” For Covey, these four roles of leadership are:
- modeling (conscience): set a good example.
- pathfinding (vision): jointly determine the course.
- aligning (discipline): set up and manage systems to stay on course.
- empowering (passion): focus talent on results, not methods, then get out of people’s way and give help as requested.
The big problem right now is that we are moving functional leaders into enterprise level leadership positions and they are doing very poorly. Technically they can do some things, yet they are failing in other areas. In particular, they are not thinking and acting strategically.
Individuals with an enterprise level mindset can do five things very well. First, they can live with the discomfort of uncertainty and ambiguity. Second, they can make connections and realize that it is all about making connections, i.e. connecting people to purpose, connecting people to people, and connecting people to outcomes. This level of connecting gives purpose and meaning to the work we all are doing. Third, they can be a map maker and a traveler at the same time. Fourth, they can be vulnerable and learn to live with vulnerability plus handle the risks that come with the choices being made. Fifth, they are willing to show up and participate even if they know they might fail.
This week, remember Covey’s four roles of leadership and keep coaching people to have an enterprise level mindset.