By some estimates, there are over a half million business books about leadership, but when you study the ideas of the most respected experts, there is frequent agreement on the core competencies required. The same 5-10 competencies define what leaders do.
The authors of the book The Leadership Code (Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Kate Sweetman) have done an excellent job of sifting through the mountain of published materials on leadership theory and distilled it all into five rules for effective leadership.
All effective leaders have these roles to accomplish, regardless of industry or context:
- Strategist – Leaders shape the future
- Executor – Leaders make things happen
- Talent manager – Leaders engage today’s talent
- Human capital developer – Leaders build the next generation
- Personal proficiency – Leaders invest in their own development
Strategist – Leaders shape the future. As a strategist, you answer the question “Where are we going?” for the people you lead.
Executor – Leaders make things happen. Your job is to help your people answer the question “How will we make sure we get to where we want to go?”
Talent manager – Leaders engage today’s talent. As the person in charge of optimizing the performance of your team, you answer the question “Who goes with us on our business journey?”
Human capital developer – Leaders build the next generation. This is where you need to answer the question, “Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?” Just as talent managers ensure shorter-term results through people, human capital developers ensure that the organization has the longer-term competencies required for future strategic success.
I have found that in the work I do coaching leaders, most people are naturally predisposed to excel in one or two of these four roles. Some people are big-picture strategists and future-oriented, while others love getting things done, or engaging people for high performance.
In my mind, a key to becoming a great leader lies in developing your personal proficiency. Here’s the way I visualize these competencies:
So it doesn’t matter, really, what business you are in, what your staff is like. You will still need to master these core competencies in order to lead your people well, so that your organization creates sustainable performance.
What do you think?