Leading Blog






12.12.13

Could the Leadership Contract Help You Be a Better Leader?

It is no longer surprising to hear of another leader letting us down. They’re disconnected, they behave badly (if not disgracefully), and they are entrenched in wrong thinking. And we have begun to expect not much else. It numbs us generally, but it also lowers the expectations we have of ourselves. We become bystanders.

Leadership Contract
In The Leadership Contract, author Vince Molinaro thinks that this is due to four primary reasons. First, we have relied on the heroic model of leadership—the idea that the leader at the top of the organization has all the answers and can single-handedly lead the way. “It is risky to put your faith in just one individual. And when you focus on only one leader at the top, you actually take your attention away from other leaders in an organization.”

Second, we have glorified charismatic leaders. We turn them into celebrities. They become the face of the organization. We give them too much money and power. Charisma isn’t bad. “All leaders need a certain amount of it, but charisma can have a bad side too.” When leaders think that they can act any way they want without any accountability, we glorify jerks.

Third, we have promoted technical superstars into leadership roles. “The thinking was that if you were strong technically, you would obviously be strong in a management or leadership role.” The problem is that they are entirely different activities and expectations began to move you further away from what made you a strong performer. “To cope, you then relegated the people issues to second place and focused on the more stimulating technical parts of your job. Then you became a leader in title but not in action.”

Finally, Molinaro says that we have a quick-fix view to developing leaders. “We have been too simplistic about what it really takes to develop leaders.” Leadership is hard work. “We need to come to terms with the real, hard work required to be consistently great at the practice of leadership and to drive the sustainable performance of our organizations.”

Molinaro believes the way out is the leadership contract and its four terms:

1. Leadership is a Decision—Make It
Leadership begins with a decision to “consciously commit to being the best leader you can be.” Otherwise you are just going through the motions. Your organization needs you to be at your best. This means of course, that you have to have the humility to accept the fact that you could get better.

2. Leadership is an Obligation—Step Up
Your decision to lead places new demands on you. “If you try to be a leader without considering your obligations to the people around you, you won’t be focused on your organization’s larger goals. You will be thinking about how to advance your own career instead of how to build long-term success. You will make it about you rather than the obligations you have to others.”

3. Leadership is Hard Work—Get Tough
You can’t be a bystander. You have to set the pace. “If you try to be a leader without digging into the hard work, you won’t be prepared for crises. You will be drowning in day-to-day deadlines instead of focusing on where your organization needs to go next. You will find yourself floundering when issues come up on your team because you haven’t taken the time to build a collaborative culture. You will leave serious gaps in your team’s capabilities because you haven’t bothered to tackle the tough issues.”

4. Leadership is Community—Connect
You can’t be disconnected as a leader. You must build strong relationships and commit to building a community of leaders and it all begins with a commitment to connect. “If you try to lead without connecting with other leaders, you will isolate yourself. You will be focusing on your own narrow little world instead of collaborating with peers from across your organization and your community. You will find yourself blindsided by problems you didn’t expect because you didn’t connect with anyone who could have helped you prepare. You will end up overstressed and overwhelmed because you didn’t have anyone supporting you.”

Is it time for you to sign the leadership contract?

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:20 PM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Leadership Development



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