Influential Leadership can be assessed because it has form and structure and content, and is defined by behaviour. Leadership behaviour determines leadership, rather than the person’s position, title or power relationship or academic knowledge.
The behaviour of the person is the point of assessment, not the person.
ILP is not an amorphous concept that can be anything to anyone; it is behaviour of a particular nature, exercised repeatedly at leadership moments.
For example, there could be a fantastically competent and highly rated academic, business person, official, or politician, who often and generally exercises ILP in their ‘At Work’ leadership moments, but whose behaviour is generally inconsistent with ILP ‘At Home’ or ‘At Play’. The best we can say about such a person is that at such-and-such a leadership moment they exercised ILP, and at the following not.
This particular characteristic is unique to ILP, as a doctrine of leadership. As stated elsewhere, to be an Influential Leader requires ongoing and consistent Influential Leadership behaviours in all social domains. This does not imply that a person cannot be recognised as a great Influential Leader in the business world, or as a politician or in their social setting or in recreational endeavours, but they may be less of a success in other domains.
The intention of ILP, however, is to equip people to be the best Influential Leaders they can be across all their social domains.
There is a simile used to question the absolute value of data and statistics, which is useful here to explain the converse of the ILP principle of exercising wall-to-wall leadership. The saying goes, that, ‘if, at the same time, my head is in an oven and my feet in a freezer my temperature may be normal, on average.’ Similarly, if I am a supposed great leader in business, but I treat my partner and family like slaves, then I am not an Influential Leader.
The Eight Influential Leadership Attributes (8ILPAs) form the basis of the behavioural assessment.
Thus, for a person’s behaviours to be defined as ILP, they must at least be:
In addition, the outcomes of the behaviour must be ethical, just, respectful, inclusive, legal and so forth. Outcomes that are anti-social, selfish, self-seeking (exclusionary), purposefully disrespectful or illegal, cannot be defined as ILP.
To ensure a reasonably common appreciation of the Eight ILP Attributes (8ILPAs) they are given some shape in the sections that follow.
I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.
Billie Jean King
Adjective: Having and showing conscious knowledge, understanding, and judgement of one’s own character, behaviour, history, and feelings.
The Eight Influential Leadership Attributes (8ILPAs) have no order of precedence or relative standing.
However, self-awareness is listed out of alphabetical order because Influential Leadership starts from within; its apparent precedence only signifies that principle.
ILP asserts that to bring justice to leadership moments it is imperative to be self-aware; to have a clear appreciation of one’s personality and history of behaviours, including strengths, blind-spots, motivations, and emotions. Being self-awareness enables one to understand other people and leadership moments better, and how to respond to them.
Through the ages this attribute has been recognised and lauded, as illustrated below:
- Know yourself and you will win all battles. Sun Tzu
- Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment. Lao Tzu
- I must first know myself, to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self would be ridiculous. Plato
- There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self. Benjamin Franklin
Like getting to be expert at anything, it requires consciousness and effort to hone self-awareness.
The general principle of self-awareness has been replicated in many management and so-called leadership programs, such as the ‘360-degree review system’, ‘multi-rater assessments’ and ‘performance management’.
While self-awareness can certainly be supplemented by 360-degree-style processes, it is more than a mechanistic multi-point feedback practice. Bea Fields, writing for the FastComapny offers a sound description of the 360-degree idea, and it shows up some of the limitations in such an approach:
A 360 Degree Feedback Review is a multi-source feedback, multi-rater assessment, upward feedback or peer evaluation designed to give you a panoramic view of your leadership capabilities. It is a process in which you evaluate yourself on a set of criteria, your manager or supervisor will then evaluate you, as do your peers, direct reports, even family members. Upon completion of the assessment, you will receive a gap analysis detailing how you perceive yourself versus how others perceive you. The 360 Degree feedback process involves both participants (the person or people being reviewed) and raters.
Self-awareness is one of the rarest of human commodities. I don’t mean self-consciousness where you’re limiting and evaluating yourself. I mean being aware of your own patterns.
The secret to happiness is freedom… and the secret to freedom is courage.
Adjective: Possessing or characterised by courage. Courage (noun): The quality of mind or being that enables a person to face adversity, danger, pain, or social estrangement.
You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.
There is a dictum stating the one should have the courage of one’s conviction, i.e., doing the right thing, no matter what.
Leadership implies standing alone, often; and it implies standing firmly for principles rather than for people and ideologies and beliefs when they are contrary to these universal principles.
Without being courageous it is impossible to be an Influential Leader because you will not be able to step out of the shadows, or step up to the proper principles.
Like all the attributes that define Influential Leadership, courage too is a choice; it belongs to all of us, we must simply take ownership thereof.
It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
A leader is a dealer in hope.
Adjective: Full of optimism about the outcome of an endeavour, and about the future or a future event; expressing confidence and commitment to expected success, and infusing hope in others.
Being hopeful is to believe and act that success will happen in the present and future, and it propels one to go further. When you cherish hope, it activates you to action, and it brings hope to people around you.
Hopeful, in the context of Influential Leadership, has both internal and external dimensions. It is how the person feels in themselves when faced by leadership moments, how they behave at such moments, and the hopeful externalities they cause in others.
The alternatives to creating hope, such as despondency, gloom, incompetence, or anguish, are certainly not positive and thus can have no stock in ILP.
Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour … If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?
Adjective: Having honourable principles based on truths and rules. Principle (noun): A fundamental or general law or truth from which others are derived; a fundamental doctrine or theory. Knowing what the right thing is, and doing it.
Thinking, planning and basing behaving on first (fundamental principles) is ‘being principled’, and is what Influential Leaders do. Principles carry us beyond fickle expediency.
Niccolo Machiavelli provides lucidity to the link between Influential Leadership and the attribute of being principled: A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.
Machiavelli illustrates key elements of ILP in his statement:
- All it takes is one person to show the difference between right and wrong;
- People look up to and are incentivised by those who do right; and
- It is through personal example that influence is leveraged.
In brief, it is only in the presence of proper truths and rules that there can be effective leadership.
Principles and rules are intended to provide a thinking man with a frame of reference.
Carl von Clausewitz
Once we have established the right thing to do, there is only reason to carry it out with purpose.
Adjective: Being determined and resolute in action, and having a worthy purpose.
Influential Leaders do everything with a purpose no matter how small or big it may be. When you have a clear goal and work purposefully towards it, the chance of success is greatest.
If a plan is properly conceived and followed with purpose and achieves an 80% success level, it is usually superior to 100% luck.
Purposeful leadership implies being:
- Relentless; and
Secondarily, it also means that there should be purpose in what one does, in the objective that is set. This relates to the notion of an endeavour and a life being more than itself.
An Influential Leader looks and acts beyond themselves, and when the do act, it is focussed and relentless.
To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Adjective: Curios and inquiring; seeking facts and information to test what may be custom, tradition, opinions or fabrication, rather than truth.
Questioning is related to the notion of, ‘I think, therefore I am’, as suggested by the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes (1596 – 1650). Descartes positioned ‘reason’ and ‘mind’ as the centre of who and what we are, rather than belief systems.
Influential Leaders question fundamental matters in general, but also when faced with specific leadership moments. This form of questioning does not imply inaction, but reasoned action and leadership.
There is a strong relationship with another ILP attribute, that of ‘thoughtful’; where together they offer productive questioning, or critical thinking.
Envisioning, creating and following a general plan that integrates the immediacy with what lies beyond the horizon.
Adjective: The identification of a long-term or general objective, interest, or principle, and the establishment of an overall means (plan) of achieving such outcome.
The terms ‘strategy’ (noun) and its derivatives such as; ‘strategic’, ‘strategist’, ‘strategise’, and so forth have a military derivation; from the era when the best, and just about the only, business in town was to pillage and plunder. The word originates from the Greek word ‘stratēgia’, meaning ‘generalship.’
While it is still a word closely associated with overall military plans, it has migrated into the lexicon of business, sports, politics and social media; the battlegrounds of a new age.
As a post-graduate student of Strategy I have found it useful to think about the concept in the following diagram that illustrates the notion and its two closely bound offspring, namely, Operations and Tactics.
At a level above Strategy is the notion of Politics (policy) which gives direction at the highest level. Carl von Clausewitz (1780- 1831), a grand master of martial theory and strategy, tells us how war is a component of ‘politics’: War is the continuation of policy with other means. Policy or politics is inclusive of diplomacy, trade, threats of war, and war itself.
Quite frequently these and related terms are confused and conflated in their use. They are not synonyms, and like most real words, have value in specific meaning, rather than applied bluntly.
An Influential Leader is consistent in each of their behaviours to fit within their strategic domain. The principle of consistency is a perfect fit for the wall-to-wall nature of ILP – it is leadership across all our social domains, and every nook and crevice of our lives.
‘Being strategic’ implies a number of ingredients; including some of the following:
- Setting (having) a long-term (strategic) objective;
- Designing and respecting the long-term plan;
- Connecting immediate (tactical) and medium-term (operational) plans and activities with the long-term objective and plan;
- Ensuring multi-dimensional consistency in objectives, plans and actions; and
- Appreciating the dynamics of time and place.
Being an Influential Leader requires a consistency across each of these three interrelated components of objectives, plans and actions (behaviours).
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Adjective: Manifesting careful thought; being contemplative or mindful.
Being ‘thoughtful’ is associated with the ‘questioning’ attribute too, in the sense of thoughtful questioning, or productive questioning or critical thinking.
There need not be any trade-off between thoughtful and speed of appropriate action. Too often, on the other hand, there is evidence that thoughtfulness is sacrificed for action of the wrong or inappropriate process or outcome. In worst cases, apparent wrong is hidden behind the ‘need for speed of execution’.
The Influential Leadership style of ‘thoughtful’ is practical application of one’s mind at leadership moments, taking into account the demands of time and place.