Are You a 3-Dimensional Leader?

by terrywelford

in Leadership

Sandra is a divisional Vice President with a large organization. She is an expert in her field, a visionary and strategic thinker, and is very results-oriented. Her staff and her peers in the organization, however, find her communication and interpersonal skills to be lacking. As a result, she has few effective relationships in the organization making it difficult to accomplish her goals.

Tom is the manager of a small department. He is well liked by his staff and communicates with them frequently. He has built a strong, motivated team. His own productivity, however, is a point of contention with his boss. He spends a great deal of time in meetings and never seems to get to high-priority tasks. His decisions are often delayed as he weighs concerns about the impact on others. As a result, his performance on goals is less than expected.

Joan is a department director with a staff of 25. She was hired six months ago with an agenda to implement major changes in her department. She is very comfortable with change, having led several major change efforts in her last organization. She pays attention to planning and process. However she doesn’t always attend to others’ feelings about change. As a result, she encounters resistance and lack of motivation, hampering her change efforts.

Although these three situations are different, they share one thing in common – in each case, the leader is not bringing a well-rounded set of skills to his or her role. I see situations like this every day in my work as a leadership development consultant and coach. Being an effective leader means opening yourself up to all of the competencies required to be effective. So, you might well ask, what are these competencies?

3D GlassesLet me explain them in the context of the model I use in my work. I call this model 3-Dimensional Leadership™. You know how 3-D movies have been all the rage the last couple of years? Well the ability to lead in 3-D is equally exciting – and you don’t even have to wear those funny glasses!

3-Dimensional Leadership is a simple and practical model of leadership which groups critical competencies into three dimensions or categories:

Personal Dimension – Competencies that enable leaders to model personal effectiveness and include accountability, credibility and trustworthiness, ethics and integrity, flexibility, and self-awareness.

Interpersonal Dimension – Competencies that enable leaders to work effectively with others and include communication skills, managing conflict, negotiating skills, team building and relationship skills.

Organization Dimension – Competencies that enable leaders to effectively utilize the right tools and techniques with the right people for the right purpose at the right time and include change management, decision making, planning and goal setting, process improvement and strategic thinking.

It’s the integration of competencies in all three dimensions that produces successful leaders. It’s not enough to display high personal effectiveness. Nor is the ability to work effectively with others – like Tom in my example above – the sole key to being an effective leader. Having strong organizational competencies alone, like Sandra and Joan above, will not produce an effective leader. The successful leader has strengths in all three dimensions.

The good news is that leadership is a skill, one that can be consciously learned and developed. It’s about leveraging your strengths, and working on your development needs. The more strengths you develop across all three dimensions, the higher probability of achieving success.

Leadership is a journey, not a destination. So, how to begin the journey? Here are five tips for increasing your effectiveness as a leader:

1. Raise your self-awareness.  Undertake self-examination. Ask for feedback.

2. Start small. Going from good to great follows an “S” curve of learning. Starting small means doing something now, something within your control that will have immediate impact.

3. Build on your strengths. Figure out what you do well and magnify it.

4. Connect competencies and leverage combinations. For example, leaders who are highly competent in results-orientation and relationship skills have a powerful combination.

5. Develop your weak areas. You can improve your leadership effectiveness through self-development. Read. Get a coach. Attend leadership development workshops.

Effective leaders are made, not born. Everyone can get better at leadership. Decide to become a great leader and take steps now to move yourself down the path.

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