you Embody the Four Strategies of a Transformational Leader?
In working with leaders, both within
healthcare delivery and healthcare business, I often reference Warren
Bennis' research on what makes for effective leadership. As you
start the year 2002, here is your opportunity to take a personal
inventory of whether you have, or are building, "the right
stuff" to lead your team.
The Strategies for Taking Charge", authors Warren Bennis and
Burt Nanus, describe four types of competency---four types of human
handling skills---that their leadership subjects had in common. Of
significance is that the men and women they studied were all leading
change and directing new initiatives---there were no "incrementalists".
"These were people creating new ideas, new policies, new
methodologies. They changed the basic metabolism of their
organizations. These leaders were, in Camus' phrase, 'creating
dangerously,' not simply mastering basic routines."
Here are The Four
I. Attention Through Vision
II. Meaning Through Communication
III. Trust Through Positioning
IV. The Deployment of Self
Through (1) positive self-regard and (2) the Wallenda factor
Strategy I: Attention Through
Management of attention through vision is
the creating of focus. All the leaders studied in Bennis and Nanus
work had an agenda, an unparalleled concern with outcome. Leaders
are "results-oriented individuals" who transmit an
"unbridled clarity" about they want from their colleagues, associates
and players. "Their fixation with and undeviating attention
to outcomes brings about a confidence on the part of their employees--a
confidence that instills in them a belief that they are capable of
performing the necessary work."
Strategy II: Meaning Through
Success requires the capacity to relate a
compelling image of a desired state of affairs---the kind of image of
the future or of a product experience that induces enthusiasm and
commitment in others. This does not necessarily require a flair
for oratory, but rather the ability to present meaning, to take
the abstract and convey what it means experientially. The
importance of this is clear when you understand that all organizations
depend on the existence of sharing meanings and interpretations----What
are we doing? What is our purpose? What kind of impact will
our work have on the world?
Strategy III: Trust Through
Trust is the glue that maintains organizational
integrity. Followers trust leaders who are predictable, whose
positions are known and who keep at it; leaders who are trusted make
themselves known, make their positions clear. "Leaders are reliable
and tirelessly persistent." All leadership requires
constancy; it is not necessarily the direction---the angle you
take--that counts, but sticking reasonably to the direction you
choose. One of the significant benefits of constancy is revealed
as organizations take on risks---to innovate, challenge and
change. Leadership of trust creates the foundation for
steadiness, forward movement and "courageous patience."
Strategy IV (1): The Deployment
of Self Through Positive Self-Regard
"Leadership is an essentially human
business." The top executives studied by Bennis and Nanus
spent roughly 90 percent of their time with others and "virtually
the same percentage of their time concerned with the messiness of people
problems." A key factor in successful leadership is the
creative deployment of self: management of self---the nurturing of
personal strengths and skills, and the compensation and adjustment for
one's weaknesses. Positive self-regard consists of three
major components: knowledge of one's strengths, the capacity to
nurture those strengths, and the ability to discern the fit between
one's strengths and weaknesses and the organization's needs.
Positive self-regard is related to emotional wisdom, or to use a more
trendy phrase, emotional intelligence.
Strategy IV(2): The
Deployment of Self Through the Wallenda Factor
"Being on the tightrope is
living; everything else is waiting." ---Karl Walenda, 1968
Like Karl Wallenda, whose life was at
stake each time he walked the tightrope, effective leaders put all their
energies into the task. They don't think about failure and indeed rarely
used the word. "Mistakes", "glitches",
"false starts", are part of the vocabulary and experience of
the leader, and each of these has an important life lesson that
only serves to propel one more effectively toward success.
The tension of the Wallenda factor is that of failure versus learning.
Leaders use the energy springing from "false steps" to reach
higher goals; a false step for an organization is an opportunity to
learn how to create the vision---and not the end of the
Where do you stand with the
If you have a leadership role
currently---whether in healthcare delivery, in business, as a new
business owner---I strongly encourage you to read more about the Four
Strategies from Bennis and Nanus. Take your own personal inventory and
see where you stand relative to each of the strategies. Where can you
improve? How can you bring the Four Strategies into your own
From my own experience as a manager,
leader, and team member, the success of any endeavor---whether
implementing a project, building a product, merging two companies, or
introducing a new quality initiative---is dependent on only one
thing: good leadership.
Francine R. Gaillour,
MD, Business Consultant and Executive Coach for Healthcare