leading or bleeding?

“All things are twofold, one opposite the other, and He has made nothing incomplete.” Sir. 42:24

 Nowhere do we propose that there are good and bad entrepreneurial aptitudes, only, that applied incorrectly they can have unintended consequences.

We’ve been around to long, and tried out too many tools to believe that there is an assessment that can determine the suitability of an individual for entrepreneurial competencies. We have tried psychometric and handwriting analysis, actuarial fit of competency to predicable performance and are yet to make an accurate determination. So why test, why not do as Richard Branson writes, @#$%^&* lets do it!

Most analysis tend to be “it’s either this or that,” by what is meant, that you are either introverted or extroverted, much like the outcomes from a psychometric test. Unfortunately, this seems only to determine how you feel on that day and most of us, especially sales people, can display both of these attributes as the situation, in which they find themselves, demands! We say “most of us” but we also generalise, as there are individuals where these characters will be dominant in either of the extremes. But, does it determine success in the individual to engage in entrepreneurial activity?

Most assessments are snapshots of what “you” feel about the particular question that has been asked. Actuarial methods can be applied to the questions in a number of ways, using “leading questions” to gain a sense of how true this personal perception really is. In The compound effect by Darren Hardy – Daren proposes a “Wheel of Life” and develops wheel of lifestraight forward measured questions that will lead you to a realisation how much you have these aspects under control. One I quite like, comes from the Business Development Bank of Canada but there are hundreds out there. Why? We all know that if we could distill the ability to deliver to a formula, then that formula will determine chance of success and everyone would be using it – and we would all be round pegs in round holes! Here is a free EXCEL spreadsheet.

For me, the best use of any assessment is to try and understand where we, as Business Development (Leaders) coaches, can work to build up either an under-performing or maintain a good-performing aspect of the coached. EMyth in their training, expose the idea of Leadership Attributes and “loosely” the antithesis of these are Leadership Challenges. So, if the leader is good at some things, it can have an unintended impact in another realm that is damaging to the good of the enterprise.

Leadership. In our thinking, this is where ~ not analysis, but sensitivity ~ can play a part in designing support for the coached. So, in each of the challenges there lies a “dark side” when that challenge is not met. For example, should you be an “over-achiever” (what entrepreneur is not) you could expect, nay demand “it” in those that work with you. This attitude can have two very destructive consequences. On the one hand, expecting over-achievement from someone that does not have that in their make-up can lead to a good employee feeling inadequate, that they don’t “fit-in.” The consequence is that there is a high turnover or attrition in your workforce with resultant disruption and costs. On the other hand, it can lead to the entrepreneur not grasping the underperformance to develop their people, so employees sit back and allow the entrepreneur to “do it all.” The unintended consequence of demanding perfection is that the leader is locked into the technical work of the employee and is unable to extract themselves from the day-to-day – the frustration, “I can’t find competent staff!”

Recently, we came up with our own assessment. Of course it has characteristics which must be evaluated, but we also like the EMyth light and shadow ideas. So there is as much emphasis on the dark side of the characteristic to identify the presence or lack of a “Leadership Characteristic!” In these two words lies the start of change. We are not evaluating the ability to be an entrepreneur but to be a leader.

these are the “spirit attribute”

1 ~ the Spirit of Wisdom

Light – the ability to take information and derive knowledge from that perspective but to have the wisdom to apply that knowledge to your enterprise so that it enhances the abilities of your staff.

Dark – being a “know-it-all” or even not searching for wisdom but “knee-jerking” solutions.

2 ~ the Spirit of Understanding

Light – taking the trouble to get to the bottom an issue and the time to allow the participants to come to an outcome of their own

Dark – seeing your understanding as the only perspective and driving solutions based on this imposed view

3 ~ the Spirit of Counsel

Light – making your ear available to those that require your help, 

Dark – in almost every enterprise we come across the “sanctity of information act,” information held closely by everyone and not shared as it becomes an attribute of power

4 ~ the Spirit of Fortitude

Light – the ability to hang in there and especially to “allow” this attribute in your people,

Dark – to cut and run, to see solutions as “not invented here” and to be easily swayed

5 ~ the Spirit of Knowledge

Light – an attribute that in not infused or a product of nature, it is a thirst for relevant knowledge for the benefit of the enterprise and those around you

Dark – turning this thirst into “the shiny object syndrome” the accumulation of knowledge for the sake of it where it has no outcome of value

6 ~ the Spirit of Piety

Light – an old and misused word usually used in a religious context, but in our use it describes an ability to see reverence for your people and processes and the practice of charity to those that fail in their performance of your enterprise ethos

Dark – to be bigoted and autocratic about “how we do things” to the point where burning at the stake becomes a daily public executed censure

7 ~ the Spirit of Fear

Light – having fear and communicating it is the first step in rectifying an error or building a relevant response to customers that delight them

Dark – suppressing fear that something is about to cause your enterprise pain and ignoring it or feeling that a leader should not exhibit fear brings no action for the better but in fact drives people away that use their “suspicion” of fear to not buy your products or work at fixing the issue

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So, how are you doing at recognising these “Spirits” in yourself and in your organisation? Have you got a tool or a method to bring them to the fore and use them to lead effectively? Do you look for them in your hiring process? Do you spend the time by having a formal executive project to generate the use of these Spirits in your people and exercise them in your organisation? Are you seen to walk this talk so that the exposure of these Spirits become “the way we behave here?” And, lastly but by no means without value, are these Spirits reflected in your values and communicated in your Brand and Marketing Voice?

We have a great tradition of a servant leader in Nelson Mandela. He was a man like all of us and had feet of clay as well, but, you know what, we can see these attributes in him and everything he did – RIP.

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Peter French

Business Coaching is not consulting, it's also not therapy. It's a unique profession that lives somewhere in between these two poles - structured to leave lasting life and business value!

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